The Gang Says Goodbye to Meridian
My last three years of high school were completely devoid of pep rallies, football games, clicks, wood shop class, and the hottest clothing trends. Instead my days were filled with physics, math, orchestra, American and European history, psychology, British and American Literature, Spanish, and a multitude of other enthralling subjects.
You might think it odd that I actually learned more about educational subject matter than I did about what shoes were totally “in” when I was in high school, and perhaps you wonder where this mythical place of learning was.
I attended a private school called Meridian my last three pre-college years. And while attending Meridian did involve some of the stereotypes you might envision when you think of private schools- such as uniforms- it was much different than most of you would imagine.
The school was not filled with spoiled little rich kids immersed in educational snobbery. Sure, some of the children were from well-to-do families, but public schools have kids from that demographic as well. The majority of the kids at Meridian were just from average families and many of these families had to make great sacrifices to send their kids to this school. These parents were willing to make these sacrifices because they believed in the importance of education. Their emphasis on education meant that they were very involved at the school and in their kids’ academic progress. I believe that parental involvement contributed greatly to the success of Meridian students. I am very grateful my own parents had the foresight to send me to Meridian.
While the parents played an important role at Meridian, one can’t forget the teachers. Most of the teachers were absolutely fantastic! I don’t know how such outstanding educators were convinced to teach at this school for what I am sure were meager wages. I have not had more capable teachers before or since. So wherever you are-Mr. Bennett, Mrs. Betts, Miss Tueller, Mr. Ramsey, and the many others-thank you.
Meridian was founded in 1989 by a group of BYU professors as an educational experiment of sorts. They wanted to find out if a private school, which spent roughly the same amount of money on each student as the government spent per child in the public school system, could provide a better education than public schools. I believe Meridian is proof that the answer to that question is a resounding yes.
While Meridian’s low tuition made its education accessible to more people, there was one drawback to this affordability: our building had to be cheap. Meridian was located on 9th East in Provo in what used to be a Catholic school, Saint Francis. The building was completed in 1955 and was built to accommodate nuns and a father. These two factors resulted in some architectural peculiarities. One such peculiarity was the hallway of small rooms built to be nuns’ quarters. These rooms were equipped with sinks and vanities and were too small to be terribly useful. But we did manage to squish smaller classes into them anyway. The Meridian School building, due to its age, was also rather rundown. The classrooms never got too warm in the winter, necessitating the use of many layers of clothing. It also always seemed like only half of the toilets worked at any given time. Additionally, our gym floor was deemed unsafe for basketball games so the school teams had to play their games elsewhere. Despite these, and the many other idiosyncrasies, I still think of that building with fondness.
That’s why, when I found out that Meridian had sold their land to BYU and the building was going to be demolished, I wanted to see it one last time. A big group of my high school friends showed up to say our farewells. And yes, we have stayed good friends over the span of a decade, another tribute to Meridian I suppose.
We wandered around what used to be our stomping grounds and reminisced about those good ol’ days. We visited Mrs. Wilson’s classroom that Jim got thrown out of repeatedly, the place in the back of the school where Cam first asked Fran to be his girlfriend (through a note of course-every important conversation took place through notes back in those days), our weedy and hole ridden soccer field where the girls team lost many a soccer game, and Miss Tueller’s lounge where we ate countless lunches of Ramen Noodles purchased at Rikki Tikki’s Tavern.
It may have been a somewhat dilapidated building but it was a great school and I’m glad I was able to pass through its halls one final time.
BTW, although its original building will no longer exist, Meridian School will continue. Starting the next school year it will be located in Orem.