The second in a two-part series, looking back at the old Edgewood HS building through the eyes of the students and staff:
Ask a staff member about Edgewood High School and certain themes emerge – pride in the students, respect for fellow colleagues, and a spirit of cooperation within the Edgewood community.
A case in point is Frank Mezzanotte. Remembered fondly by his students in Part I of this Edgewood story, Frank is now the magnet coordinator for Harford County Public Schools. He taught and coached at Edgewood HS from 1978 to 1989 and had this to say about the Home of the Rams:
“First & foremost, the experience I had at Edgewood allowed me to see the benefits of a diverse student population that complemented each other while they were in high school. Edgewood represented students who were of different ethnicities and socio-economic levels, resulting in a community of people who appreciated others’ differences and pulled together to create a dynamic school community.
As a teacher and coach (football and lacrosse), I am amazed at the number of our students who have become leaders in business and in the community. Edgewood certainly was a place where I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to teach and to coach; it will always have a special place in my
Forest Wiest became the supervisor of high school physical education and athletics for all of HCPS, but he was a football, basketball and lacrosse coach at Edgewood, arriving in 1967 and sticking around for the next 26 years.
Forest remembered Edgewood students fondly, and had this to say about the old building and the faculty who brought a feeling of family to the school:
“… the school went through extensive renovations in the late 1970’s, which included a second state of the art gymnasium, additional locker rooms, a new auditorium, new industrial arts facilities, and an additional wing of new classrooms…
The Original Building: What was unique to me was the gymnasium, my teaching classroom, which had a stage at one end. This facility coupled as an auditorium where concerts, play, etc. occurred and a gym where physical education classes and athletic events took place. Folding chairs were constantly being set up on the gym floor for the former activities, and then placed on the stage, providing extra seats for sell out basketball games. This was something I had never experienced as a HS student or as a student teacher.”
Sure enough, this end of the basketball court looks like it got plenty of action over the years:
“The Faculty: As a 21 year old teacher, two months out of Wake Forest University, I needed a lot of love and support when I entered EHS in August of 1967. I received that from the faculty there. In fact one of the things I will say about EHS, it was always a school where the faculty worked well together. The words “team work” personified the EHS faculty. I am qualified to make that statement because I spent 13 years of my career (asst. principal & supervisor) in every high school in the county.
Much of the credit for the togetherness of the faculty should go to Carl Roberts and Bob Williams, principals at EHS. Although I am hesitant about listing names for fear of omitting someone, I am grateful for the support I received those first few years from the veteran physical education department that existed at Edgewood. Bud Coakley, Jim Pasqual, Carol Barker, and Mary Ann Low were the four that had to deal with a young rookie. I also will never forget the friendships of Tom Congersky, who coached football with me for the majority of my career in that sport, and Paul Metzger, who also came to EHS as a first year teacher with me in 1967. Paul and I coached basketball together and worked to enhance the athletic program at EHS during our time together at Edgewood.”
This photo from the old EHS building would be familiar to Forest and his colleagues – the mailboxes for staff members, located just inside the Main Office:
Bob Williams was the principal of Edgewood HS from 1991 – 1996. He looks back with pride and tells a story about a time when he decided to let what happened in Edgewood, stay in Edgewood:
“I have many fond memories of Edgewood High School! Since I had been at Edgewood Middle School the previous six years, I enjoyed working with and knowing the students as well as the Edgewood community. The teaching and support staff stands out as one outstanding group of people. The teaching staff was a combination of experienced and teachers relatively new to education. The teachers were always volunteering their time to assist and support students.
I recall a delayed opening during the 1992-93 school year. The delayed opening eventually changed to a snow day and all schools were closed for the day. I came into the front hall to inform the students that school was closed for the day.
One particular student, Greg Cherry, had a horrified look on his face… I asked about the pained expression on his face and he shared with me that his dad had dropped him off at school on his way to work at APG. I asked if he could walk home and he informed me that he lived too far to walk home. He then informed me that he lived in Riverside, which was not in the Edgewood attendance area. Greg was an outstanding student and very involved in extracurricular activities. I told Greg that if he wouldn’t tell that I wouldn’t tell. I put him in my car and took him to Riverside! He graduated from Edgewood with honors in 1996. The last I heard Greg was working on his PhD in Texas. I really enjoyed and respected the students of Edgewood High School.”
Ron Burke was Edgewood’s orchestra director and then band director for a period spanning fifteen years. But even before he came to the school in 1992, he found out that Edgewood had a reputation in musical circles:
“I am originally from western Pennsylvania and completed student teaching in Johnstown, PA. When I was hired by HCPS and I told my co-operating teacher that I was hired to teach at Edgewood HS in Edgewood, MD, his first question was if that was the school that held the Chesapeake Jazz Festival. I had never heard of the festival and did not know if it was or not.
When I got to EHS, I found out that in fact it was the school that had sponsored the festival for at least 25 years, by Mr. James Murdza and Mr. Rob Bruch. I was impressed that the festival was known so far away. I found that the festival was attended by high school jazz bands from many different states.
I also quickly learned that there was quite a history in the music department and a real passion for and pride in what had been accomplished. Under the direction of James Murdza, the Jazz Band had participated in the Mobile Jazz Festival in Mobile, Alabama and the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, which is one of the most prestigious festivals in Europe.
I am extremely fortunate to have been a part of the Edgewood community. I worked with and learned from teachers and administrators who demonstrated daily a genuine dedication and passion for educating all students all the time. I was always impressed with the many parents and students that spent countless hours doing whatever was needed because they were so proud of their school, team, club, or organization and wanted to ensure success.”
Here are some photos that may ring a bell for Edgewood’s music students:
Band room soundproofing:
Paul Metgzer taught at EHS for 30 years, from 1967 – 1997, and coached basketball for brothers Charles and Dudley Bradley, who later played in the NBA. But that’s not Paul’s only claim to fame. Somehow, this little room off of the cafeteria came to be known around Edgewood HS as the “Paul Metzger Suite”:
Here’s a peek inside:
I learned from his colleagues that Paul Metzger was both a unifying force within the school and the driving force behind a money-raising business alliance. I caught up with Paul and asked him how he came to have a room as a namesake.
Paul was quick to give credit to others, citing a “great business community” for raising several hundred thousand dollars to improve the school and to make the teachers’ jobs easier. The group funded bleachers, lights and scoreboards; then bought school office equipment and furnished that small room for the staff to meet, or just get away from it all.
Chuck Boyle, Tony Meoli, Bobby Coomes, Rose Fiore and Charlie Brockmeyer were the “backbone” of the business alliance, known as the Edgewood Business Advisory Council, Paul said, and Principals Carl Roberts and Bob Williams got things done when they were presented with an idea.
Paul modestly deflected questions about his own role, saying he didn’t know why people started calling the room the “Paul Metzger Suite.” But on the subject of Edgewood High, he was crystal clear – “It was a great 30 years there.”
Paul also described himself as former “woodshop teacher”, so here are a few photos that his students might recognize, followed by some of the other specialized classrooms in the old EHS building:
Tech Ed table:
The cabinet where safety glasses were stored:
Learning With Children classroom:
The Foods Lab:
Paul Metzger’s business alliance notwithstanding, the staff at Edgewood HS wasn’t necessarily all business. Take Chuck Marzen for example.
Chuck was a teacher and baseball coach at EHS. Here he is remembering his first day on the job back in 1958, and one particular “staff meeting” that lasted a lifetime:
“As I turned down Willoughby Beach Road, I finally found the school partially hidden in the woods, at that time housing grades 6-12. It did not take me long to observe the differences in schools from the small coal region schools I was familiar with and this somewhat larger suburban/agricultural environment. On basketball nights in Pennsylvania more parents attended the games than students. It surprised me that at Edgewood, our student body cheered for the opponents especially when we played Bel Air. Many of them were former Bel Air students who were transferred to EHS when it opened in 1954.
To show how times quickly changed, I remember one afternoon after school when I was coaching baseball. Since it was raining, I thought we could practice in the gym. As I entered the gym, it looked as though a three ring circus had set up for an evening performance. At one basket there was Bud Coakley’s varsity squad and at the other basket, the JV squad. The cheerleaders were practicing at the center jump all. The track team was circling the court. On stage to the left was the wrestling squad and to the right was Delores Simmons’s modern dance troupe. Not surprisingly, the baseball players enjoyed the day off since the original gym could not accommodate one more team!
What a wonderful time it was for me to experience for 15 years such a dedicated group of teachers and students, many of whom are my closest friends today. And finally, my fondest memory is that I met my wife there, that new French teacher from North Carolina.”
Chuck Marzen wasn’t the only one who made a love connection at EHS:
The above photo came from the wall just outside the Main Office, where the Edgewood community was invited to write their good-byes to the old building after the close of school last June. Here are a few more of the messages gracing that wall:
Edgewood Old and New:
Terry Ferguson has been a paraeducator at EHS for the past ten years. By now she has made the transition to the new building, but she remembers some of the reasons why the old building had to go:
“I will miss the old school and I am looking forward to our new school. I can’t imagine myself working anywhere else. The teachers and staff at Edgewood High School are the BEST. I consider the teachers and staff at EHS my extended family. The students are great too! The one thing that I won’t miss at our old school is the trash cans in the halls to “catch” the water from the leaking ceilings. Plus the COLD classrooms and the HOT classrooms.
I was in room 9 for the last 5 years and I can say that in the winter you could just about see your breath while you were talking. I am looking forward to our new home.”
Here’s a sampling of some of the other places in the old building that Terry left behind.
Like Terry, Cathi Peters has a foot in both Edgewood’s past and present. A 1970 EHS graduate and an EHS parent, Cathi offers a reminder of how persistence and a little technology helped her get to the new building, where she continues to work as lead secretary to the principal:
“My high school days were filled with “drama” as most teenage girls’ days are. My father believed at that time that there was no need to “waste” money on college for a girl so I took the business courses to be able to secure a job when I left high school. My ambitions were high and Ms. [Marva] Choates worked with me constantly, remaining after class and helping me with the course work; however, at the end of the course (that I did pass) she pulled me aside and told me she was concerned about my choice of careers. Because I didn’t hold my pencil correctly (and believe [me] she tried to help[me] change that) I couldn’t pull my speed up enough to take shorthand at the average speech speed and she felt that I would never succeed as an executive secretary.
I was deflated but quickly determined that I could do other secretarial duties and continued on my course. Graduation was 1970. In 1990 I was hired as secretary at EHS, Ms. Choates did not recognize me at first… now as Lead Secretary I truly know the value of fantastic teachers and the how important a role technology plays for all of us.”
Here’s a bit of “technology” from the old building – an intercom on the wall in the Main Office:
Edgewood High School’s current principal, Larrisa Santos, naturally has her sights fixed on the future. But as she explains, a part of Edgewood’s past will be coming along for the ride:
One of our goals in replacing an existing building with a new facility was to preserve the essence of Edgewood High School (EHS), past, present, and future. We decided to mount the 1954 cornerstone in the center of the planter that visitors and students will see immediately upon entering the new building.
Principal Santos continues:
We are confident that this will serve as a constant reminder of our Edgewood pride and help us not to forget the people that came before us who helped shape Edgewood High School.
When I was first appointed to EHS as an assistant principal in 2001, I entered the doors of Edgewood High School with an open mind and an eagerness to embed myself in the school community. After nine years, I am proud to call Edgewood High my home and the staff and students within the building my family. As the principal of Edgewood High School, I am excited for the community, the students and the faculty. The new facility signifies, for me, the opportunity to properly showcase the talent within our school community and provide a renewed commitment to the educational success of our students.”
And so begins the next chapter in the history of Edgewood High…
For more photos of the old Edgewood High, go to The Dagger’s Facebook page.
Thanks to Dominick Dunnigan (EHS Class of ’90) of Oak Contracting, for the demolition photo.
The Edgewood Hall of Fame, a joint project of the Edgewood Alumni Association and the school administration, is seeking nominations of deserving graduates, former staff, faculty, administration and community members. Please follow this link for more information.