97-98 1997-1998 Outstanding teacher and student accomplishments as well as the continuation of a decade of change characterized the 1997-1998 school year. With the initiation of two-tier busing in Perry Township, the school day was shortened by forty-five minutes so that the high school and middle school students could ride on the buses together. The elimination of the homeroom period at Perry resulted in club meetings being scheduled after school. This change reduced participation in extracurricular activities but allowed athletes to get home earlier and students to get individual help from teachers after school (Passages XXV 3). In addition, the Brightwood/Forest Manor Community Outreach Center began offering tutoring after school to provide the students bused to Perry Township extra academic help closer to home (Shively 1). The school year began with Mrs. Beverly Hollandbeck, English department chairperson, being named Perry Meridian’s Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Hollandbeck was especially praised for her commitment to students and her creative learning environments (Blanford “Hollandbeck voted Teacher of the Year” 1). On the world front, the international community mourned the loss of two great humanitarians with the tragic death of Princess Diana as a result of a car accident on August 30 and the passing of Mother Theresa on September 5 (Somerville 27). Students and teachers especially recall watching the coverage of Princess Diana’s death and funeral on television and being saddened by her senseless loss (Hurt Personal Interview). A highlight of the fall was the traditional homecoming festivities with the theme “Wild, Wild West”. Queen Melinda Larmore and King Nathan Felix reigned over the events. Both remembered being extremely honored to be selected by their peers for this recognition (Felix, Melinda (Laramore) Richardson Personal Interviews). The fans and the football team were pumped up for the Falcon’s showdown against the Pike Red Devils. The home team came out victorious with a score of 35-13 (Passages XXV 8-9). Another fall ritual, the dome game between Perry Meridian and arch rival Southport, attracted a record crowd of over 1,800 Falcon fans (Cunningham “PM Victory Ends Decade of Frustration” 5). One of the most cherished memories of many students, Melinda (Larmore) Richardson recalls that she and her friends would plan for this annual event six weeks in advance and arrive at the game all decked out in special Falcon gear they made specifically for the occasion (Melinda (Larmore) Richardson Personal Interview). Perry was ready for revenge this year, having been defeated by the Cardinals for ten consecutive years by less than a touchdown. After a decade of disappointing defeats, Perry crushed the Cardinals by the score of 52-27, the second largest victory margin in the school’s history (Cunningham “PM Victory Ends Decade of Frustration” 5). To commemorate the victory, a celebration was held in the Perry Meridian gymnasium after the game (Bryant Personal Interview). Afterwards, the P.M. cheerleaders were featured on the late news as the Channel 13 Cheerleaders of the Week (Picture of cheerleaders 7). The 1997 fall sports season was one of the most successful in the school’s history. With only one returning senior, the girls’ soccer team won their sectional and finished second in their regional (Passages XXV 123). The boys’ soccer team advanced to the final eight in the state and won the Marion County tournament. In addition, the girls’ cross-country team advanced to the semi-state. The tennis team won its ninth sectional in twelve years. All-state players, Brian Slack and Nathan Felix, finished runner-ups in the state doubles tennis tournament. The football team was sectional finalists and broke or tied over twenty previous school records and was the highest scoring team in the county (“Perry Meridian Celebrates a Great Fall Sports Season” 2). Successes were experienced by students in other aspects of school life as well. Perry students had the opportunity to see one of their required ninth grade readings come to life on stage when Romeo and Juliet was featured as the fall play under the direction of Ms. Kathy Martin (Passages XXV 18-19). Performing a powerful show based on the opera Carmen, the Falcon marching band completed a strong season by winning a division one trophy at the regional contest. Nathan Felix was voted the D.A.R. Good Citizen by his classmates and became the first Perry Meridian student to also win the Southside and Marion County title (Felix Personal Interview). In addition, senior Kristen Imel received the WISH-TV 8 “We Value Youth” award for her work with deaf children (Blanford “PM Senior wins ‘We Value Youth’” 1). Kristy Morris was selected for the honor because of her work with the Girls Scouts and the Red Cross (Blanford “Morris wins ‘We Value Youth’”1). One of the memories Perry students recall from this year in entertainment included the blockbuster hit, Titantic (Cunningham Personal Interview). Released for the holiday season in 1997, the movie went on to win eleven Academy Awards (“1998 Remember When” 3). An event around this time which saddened Perry teens was the untimely death of comedian Chris Farley (Melinda (Larmore) Richardson Personal interview). For entertainment on a week night, many Perry students enjoyed watching Seinfeld, especially with 1997-1998 being its final season (Cunningham Personal Interview). In addition, chili bowl haircuts, the Gothic look, and baggy pants were fashion trends for guys while many teenagers enjoyed the pop sound of the Spice Girls and the rap music of Tupac and Snoop Dog (Cunningham, Shaun Richardson, Melinda (Larmore) Richardson and Felix Personal Interviews). On the political scene, the scandal surrounding President Bill Clinton was unfolding throughout 1998 and was a top news story among teachers and students (McConnell 240). A new addition to the curriculum for second semester was the School to Work program. Under the direction of Mr. Scott Ritchie this program allowed students to intern with local companies during the school day (Need 1). The school board also approved the creation of a Saturday School for students to make-up days when absent from school (“Perry Township School Board takes criticism for Saturday School” 1). In addition, the tenth-grade class of 1997-1998 became the first required by the state to pass the ISTEP exam to graduate. When the results were published in January, Perry Township’s scores surpassed those of all other Marion County districts on the exam (Stadtmiller 1). Extracurricular successes in the spring semester included four speech team members qualifying for the state, with senior Nick Stadtmiller wining the regional in Extemporaneous Speaking. The PMHS team also brought home the state award for the most accumulated rounds (Blanford “Speech ends season, wins state award” 3). In addition, for the seventh time in the school’s history, Perry Meridian won the Brain Game championship. The Falcons defeated a formidable Center Grove opponent in the tournament with ninth grader Arnel Aurellano correctly answering the six point Dean’s Question (Hasecuster “Brain Game wins Championship” 1). Highlights of the winter sports season included sophomore swimmer Sarah Kriech qualifying for the state in the 100m freestyle and the 50m freestyle while senior wrestler Shaun Richardson became the state wrestling runner-up in the 119 weight class. Overall, the wrestlers had their best season ever with only one loss (Passages XXV 132,135). The girls’ basketball team finished their season ninth in the state but failed to advance in the IHSAA tournament because of the stiff competition in their sectional in the first year of class basketball. The boys’ basketball team had their best record in fourteen years but was defeated in the sectional by Ben Davis (Passages XXV 129-131). Also, the Unified Basketball team was runner-ups in the state basketball tournament (Passages XXV 155). Perry’s talent in the field of creative arts came center stage second semester when PMHS presented Damn Yankees under the direction of Mrs. Anne Sanders and Mr. Michael Slack. Jim Gearries played baseball star “shoeless Joe Hardy” while Damon Dennin was cast as the conniving Devil (Blanford “Gearries Leads ‘Damn Yankees”’ 1). Dennin recalls first falling in love with the stage while performing at Perry and remembers how much he enjoyed seeing another side of his peers during these productions (Dennin Personal Interview). The dramatic talent of the Perry students was showcased again when “The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940” was performed for the spring play (Blanford 1). In the area of visual arts, Katie Burk and Josh Emrich were each selected as a 1998 Prelude Academy winner (Studer 3). A major school event in the spring was the Docs vs. Jocs game between the staffs of St. Francis Hospital and Perry Meridian. The teachers served as cheerleaders and played in the pep band to show their support for their coworkers on the court. In addition to generous prizes, local companies also donated expensive character costumes worn by students throughout the evening. Publicized by Mrs. Linda Burdine and the School Promotions class, the event raised over three thousand dollars for the prevention of drug abuse. Mrs. Burdine found that the new block scheduling format was an advantage for School Promotions because it provided a more concentrated block of time to work on major projects, although she accomplished less in her more traditional classes over the course of a semester (Burdine Personal Interview). “I Will Remember You” was the theme of the 1998 prom, held for the first time at the elegant Crystal Yacht Club in Broad Ripple. King Anthony Thomas and Queen Charlotte Sanders reigned over the magical night, which was made even more enchanting through the use of fog machines, rotating rainbow lights, and strobe lights (Passages XXV 6-7). The backdrop of “Tropical Nights” set the stage for the after prom hosted by the PTA. Some students were disappointed that the popular Scrambler ride had been eliminated from the activities (Passages XXV 30). Special accomplishments during the spring sports season included the baseball team being the first in Perry history to win the Marion County tournament (Felix Personal Interview). Having broken the homerun record for Perry Meridian, Mike Mitchell was named Marion County’s baseball player of the year while a record number of five other Falcons were named all-county (Beas D4). Culminating the school’s successful year in sports, Absolom Bryant became the second male in the school’s history to be recognized as the Marion County Athlete of the Year, having earned eleven varsity letters as a standout in football, wrestling, and track. Bryant stated that this honor “meant everything to me” (Bryant Personal Interview). At the honors program in May, Charlotte Sanders was the recipient of the Eugene Echols Award while Nathan Felix received the Something Extra Award (Passages XXV 32). At commencement exercises, Joe Cunningham was selected to deliver a reflection on the class of 1998’s high school years (Cunningham Personal Interview). Valedictorian Nathan Felix credited his decision to speak on “The Quest of the Millennium Falcon” because he knew Mr. Henry would approve anything related to Star Wars and, in addition, it was the best idea his six-year-old sister could come up with on short notice. Salutatorian Elizabeth Hutsell’s address, “The Music of Your Life,” explained how each graduates’ life is like a musical piece, “extraordinary and unique” (Passages XXV 14). Responsible for reading the names of the graduates, class Vice- President Nathan Felix recalls long delays in the program because the school board members distributed diplomas from the wrong stack. In succeeding years, the graduates were given a blank diploma on stage and received their official one after the ceremony (Felix Personal Interview). Class President Donnie Strack had the honor of leading the Class of 1998 in changing their tassels. In following the theme of Felix’s speech, Mr. Henry closed the program with a final farewell wish for the class of 1998, “May the Force be with you” (Passages XXV 14). For all the academic and extracurricular successes of the 97-98 school years, some of the best memories which have stayed with many PMHS grads through the years are the good times they had with their friends simply enjoying the routine of the ordinary school day. Shaun Richardson remembers the fun he had with his classmates during lunchtime, particularly their antics with the cafeteria ladies surrounding cheese-flavored malts (Shaun Richardson Personal Interview). Others recall special times in their classes and the teachers and coaches who made such a difference in their lives. Many former students note that Perry Meridian prepared them well for the future by offering a wide variety of classes to help them decide their life career (Hurt Personal Interview). The fact that many graduates from this era are still giving back to Perry Township as a teacher or coach testifies to the influence Perry Meridian has had on their lives. Works Cited Beas, Mike. "Perry Meridian tops county team." The Indianapolis Star. June 11, 1998. D4. Blanford, Laura. "Gearries Leads 'Damn Yankees.'" Focus. December 19, 1997: 1 Blanford, Laura. "Hollandbeck voted Teacher of the Year." Focus. September 26, 1997: 1. Blanford, Laura. "Morris wins 'We Value Youth.'" Focus. December 19, 1997: 1 Blanford, Laura. "Murder in the Auditorium" Focus. March 13, 1998: 1 Blanford, Laura. "PM senior wins 'We Value Youth.'" Focus. November 7, 1997: 1 Blanford, Laura. "Speech ends season, wins state award." Focus. April 17, 1998: 3 Burdine, Linda. Perry Meridian High School Teacher. Personal Interview. 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