High School Angst   Leave a comment

St. Vincent was one of the largest Catholic high schools in Akron, Ohio during my childhood.  Their theme was Irish. Their colors were green and white.  Their sports teams were called The Fighting Irish.  (They obviously were a Notre Dame wannabe sort of school.)  Their alma mater was sung to the tune of  “When Irish Eyes are Smiling,” and it went like this:

Atop a hill in Akron

proudly wave the green and white.

St. V’s banner shouts her glory,

you can see it from a height.

Ideals of highest meddle,

spirit grand and sound and true,

as we praise our Alma Mater,

sure she’s finest of all schools.

The Archdiocese of Cleveland fell upon hard financial times in the late 1960s/early 1970s, and in order to keep Catholic high school education alive in the environment of inner city Akron, a merger was proposed and implemented between two of the inner city Catholic high schools: St. Vincent and St. Mary.  This merger officially took place at the start of the 1972 school year when I was a senior.  In May of 1973, the newly merged St. Vincent-St. Mary High School graduated its first class of approximately 220 students.  About 25 of these were from the former St. Mary High School, an all-girl high school at the time who was closely affiliated with Archbishop Hoban High, the all-male high school who opened its doors in Akron in 1953.

Catholic families sent their teenaged girls to St. Mary’s and their boys to Hoban.  St. Mary’s girls were Hoban’s sports teams’ cheerleaders.  St. Mary’s girls dated Hoban boys.  There was a fairly strong loyalty there.  The St. Mary’s girls felt anger and betrayal that they were made to support the St. Vincent sports teams after the merger, a school that had been a former heavy rival in the athletic arena.  In fact, the former St. Mary’s cheerleaders were told at the start of our senior year that they could no longer cheer for Hoban, although I believe that this created so much turmoil that the administration finally dropped the issue  and let the existing St. Mary’s cheerleaders support their Hoban teams.  After all, the controversy was going to go by the wayside after those former St. Mary’s students graduated and moved on.

A close friend of mine went on to the merged St. Vincent-St. Mary High School with me in 1972  and demonstrated her distate for the merger situation by penning the following parody of St. Vincent’s alma mater:

Atop a hill in Akron,

there’s a sight no one should see.

It’s a mental institution and they

call the dump St. V.

Incompetence and boredom,

football jocks and Norman, too,

make St. V a house of bedlam

and a glorified downtown zoo.

I had to search and search to find the original words to the St. Vincent alma mater (found them in a scrapbook in the closet that dates back to those days) but I immediately memorized the parody and have never forgotten it.  Thank you, Mary Ann Herkimer, our 1973 class validictorian, for the satire, dry humor, and companionship through that challenging time!

May 1970

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