EDMOND — The $3.3 million renovation of Edmond's Boulevard Academy impressed former students and others who strolled its corridors during a recent open house.
Boulevard Academy, now an alternative high school, was Edmond's first high school in 1924. At 214 N Boulevard, it's had many functions, serving as an administrative center, junior high and eighth-grade center.
On Monday, many who have attended there returned to revisit. The remodeled Boulevard has up-to-date classrooms, science and computer rooms and even an elevator to the second floor.
Tad Kennedy, who attended junior high in the 1970s, wished he could have had access to an elevator when he was a student.
“I ran track and broke my foot on the hurdles,” he said. “Climbing these stairs was painful.
“They seemed about three times as long as this,” he added, while pointing at the staircase.
John Stone, 92, graduated from the school in 1939.
“This really brings back memories,” he said. “I like the way they modernized the building. It's just beautiful.”
School officials, planning the renovation, walked a thin line between not drastically changing the heritage or character of Boulevard and giving the school the improvements it needed. The bond-approved project work started in August 2012.
“It looks great,” Stone said, noting his three children also attended Edmond schools, including Boulevard. One of his children, Clint Stone, noted a part of the school that hadn't changed.
“The gym still smells the same,” Clint Stone said. He attended Boulevard in the 1960s, when it was a junior high.
He shared another memory, as many did during the night.
“We had a problem there for awhile with guys popping each other with towels,” Clint Stone said. “The principal decided to just call all the boys to the gym and gave each of us a lick.”
Laughter, not discipline, ruled this night.
“We had a lot of fun,” John Stone said. “Nobody had any money.” And if they did, they would splurge with a movie at the Broncho Theater for 10 cents, he said.
John Stone wasn't the oldest ex-student to tour the school.
That honor may have gone to Marcella West-Halliday. She graduated from Arcadia High School in 1935. But her freshman and sophomore years of high school, barely in the first years of Franklin Roosevelt's first term as president, were at Boulevard.
She looked at the various classrooms.
“John Kessler taught history in that classroom,” she said. “I had Spanish on the other side.”
West-Halliday, who turns 96 this week and drove herself to the open house, looked back on the decades since leaving Edmond.
“In a way it was a long time ago, and in another way it went by so fast,” she said.
While she said she spent most of her time studying, she did admit she had her eye on a few classmates.
“Yes, I did have a crush on a few of them,” she said.
‘One big family'
Boulevard Academy, nearing its 90th year, continues its education mission.
Principal Mark Andrus played the role of proud host.
“I'm blessed to have this job,” he said.
Boulevard Academy is an alternative education program that helps students who have not succeeded in regular high schools or who need extra encouragement not to drop out. About 140 are enrolled.
“There are no second-rate programs with the Edmond schools,” Andrus said. “No child is left behind.”
One of those is Charles Greenfield, a sophomore at Boulevard who hopes to graduate in May 2015. He wants to study trades at Francis Tuttle Technology Center.
“I can get more done here,” he said. “This is like one big family here.”