Dear Kim, You were a great student body president . . . read the inscriptions in Kim Hall's yearbook. Dear Kim, Watch out for those boys . . . Dear Kim, Thanks for making it the best year of my life. . .
On June 8, 200 seniors graduated from Salt Lake's South High School. Then, after 57 years, the school closed forever.Dwindling enrollment in the Salt Lake District meant one of the four high schools had to close. For a year, South High Cubs have been singing "On South High" all the while knowing that their school won't be going on.
"Oh, some of the freshmen acted like it might not happen," says Kim Hall, lounging in the cafeteria, wearing an "Always a Cub" T-shirt and signing yearbooks as she chats. "They'd say to me, `Now that we're here the school board will decide to keep it open.' " Her wide eyes widen as she relates this example of the incredible innocence of youth. Having lived through the controversy during her junior year and gone to all those school board meetings, Kim wasn't counting on any reprieve.
Dear Kim, I really appreciate the way you represented South.
Though he told her at the beginning of the school year that every activity she planned would have to be excellent because they'd never get a chance to do it over, Principal LaVar Sorensen and Kim decided not to talk about that too much. They carried off a whole year of last events without using the word "last."
"The two most successful things we did were the Grand Celebration for a Grand School party for the alumni - a lot of old-timers came back for that - and our cultural assembly." She flips through her yearbook to the section for assemblies. "This was the best assembly we had in the four years I've been here," she says, pointing to photos of a Native American boy doing the hoop dance, a Japanese girl wearing a kimono, a black boy on saxophone, a Chinese dragon, Tongans, Polish foreign exchange students.
"I'd say we have about 40 percent minority students. That's always worked for us." Do you think kids tried even harder to get along this year, knowing it was South's last year, wanting each other to have the best year possible?
"No," she says, "We still had some fights. Some people just like to fight, you know?"
Kim, Always remember what school you came from.
Kim almost didn't go to South, actually. Her mother, Pat, wanted her to go to East. "That was the only argument we've ever had," says Kim, who thinks her mom is a pretty smart lady. "She thought I could get a better education at East. But I'm an only child, so I just wanted to be with my friends. And my friends were going to South."
Kim took her mother to meet the South counselors. They described the honors courses available. Her mother was persuaded. "And last year when they were deciding what school to close, my Mom was writing letters telling everybody what a great school South is," says Kim.
Kim, Have a killer summer! wrote several boys. And one added, I never thought much of girl presidents till you. Kim is South's fourth female president; all five student body officers this year are women.
Several of the guys, knowing they'd have a chance to sign her yearbook later, at the party for class officers at Sorenson's house, asked to sign her leg.
Laughing, she let them. One boy affixed his calling card, with Scotch tape, to her shin.
Kim, You can be a big wig and still remember the small people like us.
Kim wrote an essay in the yearbook, telling her fellow students, "Let's face it, South High is just another building on State Street. It's the students who make it a special place." "Don't Stop Believing," was the theme for the year. "We do believe South is more than just a place," says Kim. "The South High kids are taking this (losing and controversy about boundaries) the best of anybody."
Oh, she says, perhaps some of the seniors are a little bitter. But the younger students are ready to move right in at Highland or East next year. Actually, Kim says, she might have been a little bitter herself, except that she "has to serve on committees with all these people." She's helping to facilitate the closing of the school and the transfer of students and equipment. She decided to follow her principal's lead (`Doc Sorensen has never shown any resentment") and make the transition a happy one.
Dear Kim, Good luck at the U. Congratulations on your scholarship.
"I'm so glad we had this last year. Things would have been totally chaotic if we hadn't had time to make all the decisions," she says. Like what to do with all the trophies. (ut them in the memorabilia room that will be preserved in the building if it is purchased by the state.)
And decisions on where the new boundaries will be drawn and how to get South students involved in their new schools. (Both Highland and East let South elect several student body and class officers for next year.) And what to do with all the equipment. (`I tried and tried to get the varsity football players their helmets. But the district said no. And then those helmets were gone right after the last game. The district took them so they wouldn't disappear, I guess.")
Dear Kim, Can you believe we're graduating? I'm sure you'll be successful at whatever you do.
Leading South through it's last days, Kim Hall says she learned three things: Life isn't fair. You don't always get what you want. Fight for what you believe in but, if it comes, accept the end of your dream with dignity.
Dear Kim, Goodbye. Goodbye, South High . . .