There must be a way to save BH High School


It’s painful to contemplate the closing of Benton Harbor High School. My family came here 114 years ago, which I thought was a long time, until I realized BHHS had already been around for 40 years by then. A high school represents the heart and soul of a community, and losing it is something the people of Benton Harbor are rightly resisting.

I wonder how many people who are advocating its closure have actually set foot in the building recently? I have. After living in California for many years, I moved back to the Twin Cities in October and soon became aware of the state champion Tigers basketball team. I went to a half dozen games at the Farnum auditorium this winter, and what a joy it was to watch them play! Not only Scoobie Johnson and his teammates, but the students and parents and the teachers and alumni in the stands, the amazing drummers and horn players of the pep band, and the cheerleaders and dance troupe that brought such energy to the gym! There are some things of value that just can’t be measured by a standardized test. Have people of goodwill really been given the chance and time to save this precious resource and spirit?

So much has been knocked down and lost in this community, but BHHS is still standing.

My family’s drugstores and many other neighborhood and community based businesses fell victim to the shopping malls and chain stores. They’ve been knocked down and disappeared, but BHHS is still standing. The fruit market where my childhood friend’s dad worked and where I spent many hours as a young boy, along with the Flats neighborhood surrounding it, has been knocked down and disappeared, but BHHS is still standing. Benton Harbor Malleable, where one of my grandparents worked, along with Auto Specialties, Superior Steel and so many other sources of well-paying working class jobs have been knocked down and gone. But BHHS is still standing.

I’m not sure what the solution is to the problems besetting the school district, but it sure seems to me that one week is hardly enough time to craft a solution to a problem that has been decades in the making. We owe it to the kids, to the parents, to the proud legacy of the past and the promise of the future to work harder to find a way to solve this problem.

Save the Tigers!

Paul Gillespie

St. Joseph