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Bloomfield Hills

May 13, 2013

Andover, Lahser alumni celebrate the end of an era

By Robin Ruehlen
C & G Staff Writer

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Andover, Lahser alumni celebrate the end of an era
Class of 1972 graduates Ken Kardan and Mark Jones look through the collection of class photos at Lahser High School May 11.

BLOOMFIELD HILLS — As of June 14, the Andover Barons and the Lahser Knights will become part of history — and the Bloomfield Hills High School Black Hawks will become the future.

On May 11, nearly 2,000 past and current students, staff and family members turned out to say one final farewell to Lahser and Andover high schools, roaming the hallways, greeting old friends and sharing memories.

The dual celebration for the end of the Andover-Lahser era included live music, face painting, a petting zoo and a testimonial booth at both locations for those interested in recording their high school memories. Vintage football jerseys and yearbooks were available for purchase, along with group photos with friends at the final farewell.

Brian Wezensky, parent of one Lahser graduate and one senior, took the opportunity to photograph his son Andrew’s high school record for pull-ups and dips that has stood since 2007.

“This has been the best experience for them, from kindergarten through 12th grade, from the teachers and the counselors to the parents,”  Wezensky said.

“There’s a big group of parents here who really care and contribute to everything, and Lahser has the biggest senior all-night party I’ve seen in my life. It’s been a good time.”

Andover/Lahser mixed-media and photo art teacher Barb Brownson watched as visitors peered through stacks of free artwork dating back to 1975. Brownson herself graduated from Lahser in 1981.

“I was hoping some of these artists would show up today,” said Brownson, who was able to find some of her own work, along with several friends’ pieces in the stack.

“My best memories were of Norm Stewart’s art class. It was really important to me, and I’m sad to see the building close, but the new high school is really going to be something.”

Thanks to a $58 million bond passed by Bloomfield Hills Schools voters in 2012, Lahser and Andover will combine to form the new Bloomfield Hills High School, slated to open in fall of 2015.  

In the meantime, the former Hickory Grove building will become the 9th Grade Campus,  while Lahser will serve as the main campus of the BHHS Black Hawks until construction is complete at the footprint of the current Andover site. 

Andover High School, home of the Barons, was founded in 1955 at 4200 Andover Road in Bloomfield Township. Lahser High, home of the Knights, was founded in 1967 at 3456 Lahser Road in Bloomfield Hills.

Final drawings of the new state-of-the-art two-story BHHS building were released in December of 2012 and detail a collegiate-style campus that emphasizes the multipurpose use of gathering spaces. Seven “learning communities” — four on the second level, three on the first — will consist of open, flexible spaces where students can study and eat lunch without traveling to a separate area of the school, and faculty will share collaboration suites within each “community.”

Former Bloomfield Hills Board of Education Trustee Joan Berndt attended the farewell celebration and said she remembers when Lahser was the new addition to the district.

“They were arguing about what to name it. The board did not want to name the school after a person because they were worried someone would be left out. So someone suggested it should be named after Lahser Road,” she said.

“Then, there was concern because many people still pronounced Lahser as ‘lasher.’ So we just said, ‘Hey, we’re in the education business — we’ll educate them.’”

Berndt said she was hoping her son Ron, a 1984 graduate, would attend the celebration, as well.

“I gave him the business about coming over,” she joked.

New Jersey resident and Lahser Class of 1993 graduate Dan Nacinovich and wife Stacy were in town to attend their 20-year class reunion, in addition to the farewell.

“I remember building floats for homecoming and skipping class to hang out in study hall and take double lunches,” he said.

Lahser Class of 1977 graduate Andrea Gilles Briggs wrote in an email that she had fun seeing her old friends and teachers, “and just remembering high school moments as I walked the halls for the last time.”

Bloomfield Hills Schools Board of Education President Ingrid Day wrote in a letter that Superintendent Rob Glass, district administrators and both high school principals continue to work to provide a successful start for the new BHHS.

“Amidst the excitement of something new, we must find ways to celebrate the rich and successful histories of our Andover and Lahser high schools,” she wrote.

“We are so fortunate to have had these two storied schools, and well-rounded and talented graduates are evidence of their success. It will be hard to close out this school year and all that it means for Andover and Lahser.”

For more information on the plans for the new Bloomfield Hills High School or the two-year transition, visit www.bloomfield.org.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Robin Ruehlen at rruehlen@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1105.