Some sad news crossed my path the other day. My high school alma mater, Montclair College Preparatory School, shut down a month ago, a victim of the economy. They'd been around for 56 years.
The founder and operator, Dr. Vernon E. Simpson, passed away about 4 years ago. Apparently since, the school had had difficulty getting endowments and drawing students. I'm sure the economy had a lot to do with this, as well as the passing of the visible presence of the school to parents and the community. Last year, they had cut all sports programs, which is never a good sign.
Montclair is where I learned all about computers. Up until the last semester of my senior year, I had absolutely no clue as to what I wanted to do. Then, that Christmas, I received a TI-58 programmable calculator. I started playing with the programming, and it was like the proverbial light bulb. Then a computer class became available, and I started working on a TRS-80 Model 1. Within a month I was working on the school's PDP-8, and the rest, as is said, is history. And here I am today.
On the auditorium stage when I got up to receive my diploma (actually a rolled-up piece of paper because the original diplomas had the school's name misspelled by the printer), Dr. Simpson whispered to me "and honors in computers", as he knew that I spent lots of time after school hours working on the PDP-8, just writing programs.
Now that part of my life really only exists in memories. No longer can I drive on Sepulveda Blvd. heading to Western Bagel and look at the school, and remember that's where I got the kick in the tushie that pointed me to what I am today. But I do have good friendships with several of my classmates, and I've seen a few of them in the past month. Our 35th reunion is coming up in a couple of years. I helped get people together via Facebook for our 30th, and social networking will help us again. And Montclair Prep will live on in our collective memories.
Thank you, Montclair. You may have had your problems off and on over the years, but you taught me a lot about life, and got me into a career field I love.