CAMERON - Both nostalgia and excitement were in the air Wednesday during the final alumni walk through of the old Cameron High School on Maple Avenue in Cameron. Among those gathered were current students, recent graduates, staff, and alumni who have seen generations of Cameron residents attend classes at the building.
"We're looking forward to moving to the new school," said Principal Jack Cain as he stood in the English department hallway on the second floor. "It is sad saying goodbye to this old place, though. It's been a family school."
As Cain spoke, his daughter, Margaret Cain, a current student, chatted with her grandmother, Elizabeth Cain, who was among the second class to graduate from Cameron High School.
Photos by Daniel Dorsch
Angie Kidd, left, a Cameron High School teacher, Margaret Cain, a current student, Elizabeth Cain, who was in the second graduating class from old Cameron High School, and Nancy Cain talk during the final alumni walk through of the old building before the school moves to its new location across town.
"Once it gets in your heart, you're a Dragon forever," Jack Cain said.
He also said he is proud of the students and staff, and he is grateful for the ongoing community support for the school.
Mike Ramsden, head of the high school Social Studies department, said that he too is fond of the old school, but that he is excited about the new building.
"I love this school, but the new school will be better," Ramsden said. "The students really do deserve a more conducive learning experience."
Having visited the new Cameron High School within the past week, Ramsden said he was very impressed. Chief among Ramsden's problems with the old school is the lack of space. He described classrooms having to be shared by high school and middle school classes, classes taking place across a hallway between the two schools, and different academic departments being scattered.
"The new school is more separated, while the departments are going to be more centralized," Ramsden said.
He noted a lot of people in the community have become impatient with the project, it now running 14 months late and costing $32 million, but he also said he believes it will be well worth the wait.
Rhonda Williams, who teaches Business Technology Education, believes the new school's setup is amazing.
"The technology is unbelievable, and the classrooms are state-of-the-art," Williams said, also praising the new science and meat laboratories for their design.
Gibbs Davidson has been working with students on a new form of physical education called "exergaming," through which students are undertaking physical activity through programs being digitally displayed in a specially designed gaming center. Like other new classrooms at the new high school, the "exergaming" center at the new Cameron High School is designed to be among the best of its kind. The school will also be the prototype for the exergaming concept in West Virginia.
"The days of throwing a ball outside and hoping the kids exercise is over," Davidson said. "It's not just about exercising anymore. You've got to entertain students too. This is 21st century fitness."
"Exergaming" activities include DanceDanceRevolution and digitally transmitted aerobics classes. Davidson expressed concern with rising obesity rates, noting teachers have to address not only education, but health too.
According to Nancy Cain, the old Cameron High School building has been serving the community for more than 50 years. Plans are currently under way to use the building once the school administration has left. The city of Cameron has expressed interest in reusing the building for community activities and utility.
For now, the Dec. 18 deadline for the move to the new Cameron High School complex stands.
"They're telling us to pack," said Ramsden, pointing out the boxes and piles of school supplies scattered throughout the old school building complex.