It was better than a reunion, although, for some Pilgrim High School alumni, returning to the school that opened 50 years ago meant meeting former classmates and walking the familiar corridors of the sprawling building.
There were the memories, but what made Saturday night at Pilgrim so unique was that, in addition to the displays of memorabilia, today’s students brought the past alive.
With skits and music of each decade played by the school band and sung by the chorus for an audience of more than 700, there seemed to be something for everyone.
With a simple set of a cafeteria table in the middle of the stage, students dressed for the period talked about the issues and celebrities, their aspirations and raised the question, “In 10 years, I wonder where we’ll be?” It was an effective way to poke fun at some of the trends down the decades, from hairstyles to dating practices, and to raise issues of where the school might be in the future.
Pilgrim grad Scott Avedisian said, when he became mayor, he was told he could not play favorites among the schools. He had to be neutral.
“Look at me,” he said facing the filled auditorium, “I’m still in black and white.” Avedisian was wearing a dark suit and white shirt, close to a knockoff of the school’s colors.
The mayor thanked the school for 50 years of great education.
He said the school has had an incredible effect on the community. Apart from its 15,000 graduates over five decades, he pointed to student leadership “that really shines.” He cited how school leaders set a goal to have all graduates certified in CPR and attained it.
“You are helping lead the community and the state,” he said. “A community grows because of our young people.”
Other than the mayor’s comments and the closing remarks of Principal Marie Cote (also a Pilgrim grad), the hour-long program was devoted to student performances. Songs of the eras had the audience tapping their feet and lip-synching. Skits featured five or six students representative of a cross section of the student population of the decade but universally Pilgrim Patriots. One line that had the audience laughing came in the first scene, as the group pondered where they and the school would be in another 10 years.
“It’s only a year old and there are leaks in the roof,” observed one performer.
Cafeteria food was a theme that carried through the decades, concluding with the school’s chicken nuggets and speculation they could last virtually forever.
But the question was raised about the school’s future, given the system’s declining enrollment.
“We’ve heard rumors about redistricting,” was a line in the closing skit.
“There’s an incredible history here,” Cote said, when the evening’s performances came to a close; “I hate to see it all fade away.”
That history was very much alive Saturday.