Way back in the 1380’s, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote, “All good things must come to an end.” The sporting world has probably put those words into play more than anybody since that day. Inevitably when a sports dynasty comes tumbling down, scribes will often reach back and deliver those words. There will even come a day, when writers choose those or similar words to describe what some day will be a losing season for the New England Patriots.
Each of our area towns has had many days in the sun athletically. People often speak of those good old days that have passed us by. There are still people who live in Walpole, Charlestown and Alstead, who never accepted the high school doors closing in those towns. Langdon gained a high school in Fall Mountain, but there are still those who hail the Chicks, the Forts and the Squires.
The consolidation movement for school districts in the State of Vermont seemingly has Black River High School counting down its’ final days. There is a vote scheduled for May 30 to find out if the electorate will support consolidation with the Mill River School District. If the measure passes, Black River would close its’ doors in June 2018 and Black River would cease to be. Men and Lady Presidents would become extinct, instead becoming Minutemen.
If this scenario pulls at my heartstrings, I can only imagine what it does for the good people of Ludlow and Mount Holly and the surrounding area. The hardest part to rationalize is that the vote, or another vote of some kind some day, isn’t about preserving tradition or what one may have today, it is more about common sense in the year 2017.
My vote is to keep Black River High School open forever, but I or most of the residents of the school district, would likely be committing a type of financial suicide to take such a stance. State educational monies would dry up, local taxes would likely increase and too many persons already strained economically, would be much worse off than they already are. I am not saying vote one way or another on May 30. I am just saying, it looks like sometime soon in the future the Black River Presidents will cease to be.
Back in the days of Fall Mountain’s infancy, it was a truer marriage for all. Each of the New Hampshire towns had a similar problem. Smaller schools were having increasingly difficult times keeping up with educational standards, especially the funds needed to meet such measures in a small community. A consolidated school would allow residents/students from each community a more efficient use of their tax dollar and an increase in educational offerings. Students in more ways than not, would receive more educational choices. Athletic teams would compete at a higher level.
One glaring athletic piece back in 1967 was the athletic rivalries. Before social media, in days long gone by, rivals simply did not like each other. They had grown up to compete to excel against the competition. The local rivalries were considered fierce. They would rather fight the neighboring community than join them. This made for some early difficulties at Fall Mountain. Not everyone was ready to be a Wildcat.
The Black River situation is similar yet very different. The high school students will not be moving on with other nearby students from other local communities. The Presidents will eventually be joining up with athletes who already have their own established program and nickname. I believe most Black River athletes will fit right in, but it is a more difficult transition to start.
As mentioned earlier, if this situation is sensitive to me, I can only imagine how those affected in the Black River community feel. Common sense says the schools days are numbered, but what is next? The powers that be worked hard and have recommended what they feel is the best direction. The community may and may not choose to support the proposal on the table. Green Mountain High School is six miles closer to Black River High School and some would prefer that direction, but as many thought back fifty years ago, who wants to merge with a once bitter rival?
My bet is, the May 30 vote will be a nay, but that doesn’t mean the same direction might not eventually prevail. Feelings are too high and patriotic to shut the doors yet, people probably have too many questions and want to put off any inevitable.
In the meantime: there is at least four sports seasons remaining at Black River High School. Put on your Presidents gear and get out and support Black River teams. Let them know you will support the Presidents as long as they exist remembering, “All good things must come to an end.”