73-74 1973-1974 “At Southport, the hallways were packed with students. In just about every hallway the students were walking shoulder to shoulder.” (Taylor Personal Interview). Southport had over 4,000 students, and it was clear that something needed to be done. It was clear that a new school was needed. Plans for construction were drawn up, and on August 28, 1973 Perry Meridian High School was born, but a problem still remained. While the school had been constructed, and students had already begun their studies in the new school, it wasn’t officially a part of the community. Something needed to be done. The Board of Education, consisting of George Adrian as president, Robert Bush, Kenneth Wheeler, Roy Carpenter Jr., and Dr. James Stainbrook Jr., decided that the school should finally be dedicated into the community as a part of Perry Township (Dedication of Perry Meridian High School). Students, families, 85 teachers and staff members, 3 assistant principals, superintendents, and Mr. James Head, the very first principal of the new school, sat in the newly constructed auditorium on Sunday, January 27, 1974. What they were attending would shape Perry history forever. They were attending the dedication of Perry Meridian High School into the community. At 2:00 o’clock, the ceremony started with Kenneth Puckett, assistant superintendent, welcoming everyone to the new school. The “Great Lakes Band” played the national anthem and Dr. Frank Hunter, superintendent, provided introductions. Joseph Buergler, President of Building Corporation, accepted the school for the community. George Adrian accepted the keys to the school for the board of education, and the newly chosen principal of Perry, James Head, accepted the keys to the school for the faculty and staff. At that time, Mrs. H. W. Davaney, president of P.T.A., recited the service of dedication speech, and the audience participated in accepting the school as a part of the community. An open house tour of the school was held until 5:00 o’ clock that day after the ceremony (Dedication of Perry Meridian High School). “By having two schools, instead of one in the community, the students who attended Perry would be allowed to have better relationships with their teachers due to not as many students being in the school and a better teacher to student ratio.” (Taylor Personal Interview). January 27, 1974 marks a great day for Perry history. On that day, Perry was finally a part of the community for which it is named. The school had many ‘firsts’, one of which was the very first prom ever for the school. Prom was held on May 18th, 1974. “Summer Breeze” was the theme held for prom, and live music was provided by the band, “The Blue Tones.” Prom was held in the front foyer, and those who attended the prom voted Tammy Smith and Pat Cedars as king and queen. But this was no ordinary prom. Because the school’s student body was comprised mostly of students who came from Southport, there were no seniors to attend the prom (Passages II 26). Jay Yeager, a graduate of Perry Meridian High School, remembers the very first prom. “I remember at one point, everyone went outside, and someone opened up their car. At that point, he put in a Led Zeppelin tape, and we danced outside. I guess a lot of people didn’t like the music inside” (Yeager Personal Interview). The school featured “You Were Born on a Rotten Day” as the very first play in Perry’s new auditorium. The school also had its very first officers that year. The junior class had Ann Hettle as the secretary of treasure, Kyle Bradford as the vice president, and leading the juniors in the very first year was Pat Cedars. The sophomores were led by Cindy Eickman, Bill Woessner, and Kathy Hinkle was president. The freshmen had Lisa Ward as secretary of treasure, Jody Betsch as V.P., and Brian Campbell as president for the freshman class in the very first year (Passages I 115-130). Being a new school and one without any seniors during the first year, many may think that Perry would struggle with athletic competition in the first year. The people thinking this would be greatly surprised to know the truth. The boys’ cross-country team got third place in sectionals, and the tennis team had a 10 and 5 record upon completing the season. The best part about the tennis team though, is the new school had no tennis courts, so all practicing had to be done off school grounds (Passages I 81). The baseball team was sponsored by Mr. Steven Taylor, and had an 8-10 season, which was lead in hits by Pat Cedars (Passages II 111). “I was glad that I was able to come to Perry and be the baseball coach for the first year. I had always wanted to at Southport, but I never got the chance, so I was glad when I was asked to be the baseball coach” (Taylor Personal Interview). The freshman basketball team made it to the final four in the county tournament with a 10 and seven record. The girls’ golf team placed third or higher in all their meets, and volleyball won the very first sectional tournament. All of these achievements were accomplished without the help of seniors, and many students were on teams for the first time (Passages II 94). A few schools didn’t like the fact that Perry was doing so well, namely Southport. Mrs. Nancy Johnson recalls “Perry was a young upstart school in Southport’s eyes, and they felt that we shouldn’t be doing as well as them in sports” (Johnson Personal Interview). Unfortunately, no students were accepted to the Wall of Fame in the first year for sports or academics, nor were any teachers recognized for the wall. Perry had something that Southport didn’t have that set it above the rest. Perry was one of the first schools to try open-concept rooms. This style often had up to four teachers in one giant room, separated by moving chalkboards, teaching different lessons at one time. This was very distracting to all. Perry was also famous for two of its facilities: the swimming pool and the science department’s planetarium, which most schools did not possess. Both of these facilities were very popular, and were seen as some of the best things Perry had: the pool especially. This is so because not many schools had even one pool, where as Perry had both a lane pool and a dive-well. Also, the pool was very state-of-the-art for its time, and many enjoyed it. Aquatide, Perry’s synchronized-swim club, especially enjoyed it, as it allowed them to participate in their water ballet shows (Passages II 128). Mrs. Jan Stevenson commented on the wildly popular act of ‘streaking’ and how it was popular during athletic games. “Streaking was a big thing back then, and a lot of people did it at football games” (Stevenson Personal Interview). Mr. Jay Yeager recalled the schools very first ‘prank.’ “One night, a couple of guys went over to Southport, and Southport had this big rock that was painted red outside their front doors. So these guys thought it would be funny to paint it Perry colors, so they did” (Yeager Personal Interview). They didn’t know it at the time, but their act would start something that would continue to this day. An energy crisis had been affecting the United States since 1970 when the price of foreign oil went up by forty percent, making gas terribly expensive. This made the U.S. finally understand its dependence on foreign oil. This led to the creation of more fuel efficient cars and the realization of how much Americans use petroleum. Inflation was also a problem in the year of 1974. When foreign competitors took hold of the market in the U.S., many companies were forced to raise prices. This caused an inflation increase of twelve percent in 1974, scaring many Americans. Unemployment rates for major American auto-companies went sky-high in 1974 as well. In early 1974, Panama and the U.S. worked out negotiations for a new canal treaty, and on March 18th the oil crisis was officially over as Arabian oil prices declined once more (Bondi 223). Because there were no seniors, there was no graduation, nor was there a valedictorian or salutatorian, but despite this, Perry Meridian High School had a great first year. A new school, new teachers, new students, new everything all made this first year great. “It was a great first year. I’m really glad that I was able to help establish good attitudes of spirit and caring for future classes,” commented Mr. Yeager (Yeager Personal Interview). Mr. Steve Taylor, a teacher at Perry Meridian High School who has been a part of the school since the first year, said, “I’m glad I was picked to be a part of the school.” (Taylor Personal Interview). When asked if she felt prepared after graduating from Perry, Mrs. Jan Stevenson replied, “Yes, I felt ready.” (Stevenson Personal Interview). Former students and teachers alike all agree that it was a wonderful first year, and the school had a promising future ahead.