December 21, 2014
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Life lessons from Gorton Jr. High

To the Editor:

It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I read of the potential closing of Gorton Junior High School in last Thursday’s Warwick Beacon. Gorton has served as both a high school and junior high for nearly 75 years, and has steadfastly withstood the test of time with an indomitable spirit of school community. I can personally attest to this, as I attended Gorton as a junior high school student in the early 1970s. Without question, my two years at Gorton were the absolute best in my public school career. For me, Gorton did not represent just another school, but rather, an inviting and dynamic environment where I could learn so many new things, forge many great friendships and embrace the opportunity to raise my own academic bar and truly flourish. Thanks to the dedicated, compassionate, competent and caring faculty that seemed to magically converge during my time at Gorton. It made for a positive, memorable and lifelong experience, which has stayed with me in all of the years that have followed.

As a full-time, single father raising two children, I have been able to continue drawing on many of the lessons I learned at Gorton, both social as well as academic, and apply them in equally useful ways for the benefit of my children. When it comes to helping my kids with their homework (a challenge for any parent, these days), I still recall learning about quadratic equations, the Periodic Chart of Elements and memorizing what seemed like an endless list of prepositions. The basic tools I acquired while at Gorton have endured, and as a parent focused on being the best possible resource for my children, those tools have proven to be invaluable. 

If I may, I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to those who made such a positive difference for me during my time at Gorton – specifically Mr. Raymond, Mr. Kee, Mr. Sheldon, Mrs. Sousa, Mr. Kamper, Mrs. Tanner, Miss Holburn, Miss Maslanka, Mr. Abberton, Mr. Chilton, Mr. Clancy, Mr. Nicholson, the bombastic yet lovable Mr. Woferseder, and lastly, the single greatest influence on my student career, Mrs. Beverly Bittner. Each of these faculty and administrators helped to shape my academic drive and performance, each one encouraging me to go beyond and realize my full potential. Indeed, it was a special time to be at Gorton. 

Both of my children are currently attending Aldrich Junior High School, an outstanding school in its own right. In doing so, I am certain that they will have enjoyed many of the same experiences at Aldrich as I did at Gorton. Granted, times have changed and so many new things have come along to be learned that did not exist in my junior high days. Yet, it has become so difficult for a kid to just plain be a kid by today’s standards, particularly with the arrival of the Internet, and a whole other host of social demands and media devices that have become dominant, callous invaders of their youth. 

I suppose every generation eventually tends to reflect on its childhood as a time when life seemed simpler, slower and perhaps a bit sweeter than the present state of affairs, both local and global, that bombard us daily. Perhaps there is more truth to such recollections than mere rose-colored glasses can reveal. What I do know is, Gorton Junior High was a journey into a time of renaissance, of growing, learning, achieving, adjusting, maturing, creating, and yes, even dating. It was a place where I felt I belonged, and wished I could have finished my final four years there, and not at some other strange, less hospitable high school. It came to represent one of the most important crossroads of my life, and is all the more reason I cherish those two magical years while I was there. 

Due to economic constraints, times being what they are, I suppose sacrifices must be made somewhere along the line. The almighty buck must stop somewhere, but it remains my hope that the individuals who will be deciding the fate of Gorton’s future viability will consider every possible option and alternative to its closing at the end of the 2013 school year, and not simply throw the baby out with the bath water. Gorton is a vital part of our city’s history, and stands for so much more than just the bricks and mortar of which it is built. Gorton has earned, and deserves, every consideration for the rich legacy it has provided for countless students and faculty that have been fortunate enough to have passed through its doors.

Bradley E. Johnson, Class of 1974

Warwick


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