My favorite spot at R. A. Long High School was, and still is, the tree-lined street on Nichols Blvd. In the bustle before or after school there is a feeling of euphoria in the greeness that surrounds you in the spring, the rainbow of colors on the trees in the fall; even in the dreariness of winter there is hope that lines the street. Hope in the future, in the budding young adults that grace the steps of R. A. Long High School.
With all the dedication and strength he had, Robert Alexander Long, or R. A., as Karen refers to him as she gives away her love for the history of Longview and her admiration for it’s founders, looked up from the plans made well before he left Kansas City, Missouri and came to the nearly raw land we now know as Longview, Washington, and said wait! There must be a change to not impede growth. You may not know, the soccer field in front of the school and the areas that now house other sporting events for the school were intended to be rows of homes; R. A. Long realized our children would need room to grow and he compelled George B. Kessler, S. M. Morris, Wesley Vandercook, and a few others that designed and built the first planned city, to make a change.
We were invited to join Longview’s Mayor, Dennis Weber, and many others who wanted to partake in the award ceremony and a historical tour of one of the most fantastic gifts R. A. Long gave to the city of Longview by Bill Kasch. Mr. Kasch undertook the planning of an event that brought many alumni out of their corners in the world and back into the halls of R. A. Long High School. With the help of our Mayor, Principal Rich Reeves, Assistant Principal/Athletic Director Ty Morris, Superintendent Suzanne Cusick, ASB President Josh Arquette, and Adam Trimble of the City of Longview we were given a tour of the Dana Brown Mainstage Theatre, Library, Archive Room, Mr. Weber’s old classroom and the Gym, including the New Weight Room, after a pleasant presentation in the front hall.
Each year the Historical Preservation Society gives away an award to someone that gives back to our community and aides in keeping our history alive. This year, to his great surprise, retired history teacher and current Mayor of Longview, Dennis Weber, was given this award. He literally glowed as his lovely wife adorned him with a complimentary boutonniere.
I was amazed at how little had changed, and how much had changed as I wandered the halls. The walls speak of life, ambition and youth; the staff emulate inspiration, innovation and dedication to the student body; Mr. Long would be proud! Not only do the current staff serve their students now, we found that the library has become a place to showcase the stories of graduated students. In an answer to alumni interest an archive room has been built and is available to browse through newspaper clippings, old yearbooks and donated mementos of students of old even after they have graduated.
In 2002 the R. A Long High School Alumni Association was formed and as you enjoy the beautiful campus you can see benches, flower gardens and other foundational support they have offered in order to continue the legacy that was handed to us. Please see their website to learn about projects they have completed that are not covered by regular school funds or other R. A . Long service organizations like Booster Club, R. A. Long Foundation and ASB.
Exclaim Media is currently working on a documentary for R. A. Long High School that will cover all that happened last Saturday, May 5, 2012. I will trust Karen to have some fun with that while I peruse my memories and think about the shy girl that didn’t really know what to do with herself. My memories of working on my Senior Project in the library while teasing my girlfriends and planning imaginary weddings, belting out a silly song in my role of ‘Voices from the High School’ when I was in drama class, doing interviews and passing out surveys for articles I wrote in The Lumberjack Log, painting my entire face, ears and neck black with RAL in bright red for spirit week (and trying not to itch it off all day) and of course the lunch-bunch that met everyday and talked about everything, will keep my busy for a long time…too long to make you wait for the video…
One of my best friends is a bit older than I, and she was recently telling me that at my age…you begin to want to remember these things and I think she is right…I have to admit I did notice that The Class of ’93 doesn’t have a website on the Alumni Association website and even though next year will be 20 years I haven’t heard anything about a reunion…hmmm…if you are part of that class I guess we might have something to talk about…
All good things have a strong foundation. In all his imperfections, Robert Alexander Long had one thing that is still easy to find in the people that live in Longview: Vision. His ability to envision the generations beyond him from as far away as Missouri and to bring it here for us is a legacy of inspiration. We don’t often think about where things begin, but just imagine what Longview, Washington would be like if Mr. Long had never had the courage to do what he did, if he had never had a conversation with George B. Kessler, S. M. Morris and Wesley Vandercook, or if our community didn’t care about maintaining and building on that vision….
Of course, not necessarily vision, but great understanding of my crazy business parter, is needed when you hear the conversations she narrates with him while she plans out endeavors large and small. Understanding that *“Mac-Face” can make you seem insane until you have moved away from editing long enough to come back to the world as we know it in reality…or at least how most people perceive it. I must say though, I wish she had been the one to teach the history on R. A. Long when I was in high school; she makes him sound like quite the respectable and amazing old gentleman!
Got comments? Memories? Things you want to share…start typing!
*‘Mac-Face’ is a term meant to describe the tightening of the face and shoulder muscles and the general crabbiness that comes from staring at a Mac too long…this can also happen if you stare at a Windows computer too long.