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Thursday, November 7, 2019

"Walizer Gym"

The Northern Potter School Board was visited on Monday night by a team including school alumni, the town librarian, former and current teachers, and local citizens with an interesting proposal: It is time to give a name to the 15-year old "New Gym," which is now older than most of the children who play in it!

Naming is an important responsibility. We shake our heads, sometimes, when parents are still calling their newborn "the new baby" days after its birth, as if this arrival was unexpected. A farmer's market in Ephrata has a building that was called "the new building" for several decades, with confusion compounded when an older building burned down, its replacement becoming a "newer building" compared to the 40-year old "new building." A school we know has a "new wing" that is introduced to visitors with a grinning notation that the so-called "new wing" is now three decades old! 

It is past time for Northern Potter's "new gym" to have a name. The citizens group at Monday's meeting asked the school board to name the gym "Walizer Gymnasium," in memory of a couple whose dedication over the past half-century has been unequaled.

Elery Walizer was an outstanding biology and chemistry teacher whose classroom enthusiasm stands out in the memories of hundreds of students who remember such things as "The Frog Bone Olympics." Elery was also the district's longest-serving principal, always known for fairness and his concern for people as well as for his administrative skills.

Carolyn started as a music teacher and then taught a variety of subjects, from math to mechanical drawing, eventually serving as librarian and bringing modernization and technical updates to classrooms as well as the library. She could fix the PA system in the gym as easily as a 16 mm projector or a VCR. She once won a trip to Europe for which the school would not allow her time off, so she spent the $6,000 she got instead on improvements for the school library. When bar-coding replaced card-catalogs, she spent weeks of summer on her own time coding every book.

Together, Elery and Carolyn served as class advisors, Varsity Club advisors, and directors of school plays and musicals. They coached sports -- basketball and volleyball. The yearbook was frequently dedicated to them-- in years when one of them wasn't yearbook advisor. The couple even adopted sons from the Northern Tier Children's Home.

Significantly, their retirement from the payroll did not end their retirement from service. Carolyn became a school board member. Elery served for decades on the library board, including a decade as president, and volunteered with the fire company and boy scouts. Retirees certainly have a right to retreat to peace and quiet on our country roads, or even to move to warmer places or closer to children, but Elery and Carolyn chose not only to stay in the community but to continue to lead and to give, and give back, putting hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars into our community.

They set the standard. Others have been great teachers or administrators, but no one has ever equaled what the Walizers did. 

Greatness should be commemorated. Washington, D.C; the Franklin Institute, the Roosevelt Highway, Reagan International Airport, Lincoln pennies, and even the name Pennsylvania call attention to our history. Local histories and local people must also be held up as examples for future generations. That is why so many bridges in our county are named for young men who served our country. It is appropriate that "new gym" should be replaced with a name that reminds people of those who served with dedication far beyond even others who were excellent in many ways as teachers or staff. 

If a community poll were taken, the vote would overwhelming favor this name. Other worthy teachers and staff can be recognized in other ways in the future, but right now it is time to take the step of naming the 15 year old "new gym" the "WALIZER GYMNASIUM." Northern Potter residents and alumni overwhelmingly support this designation.

Thank you,
-Wanda Shirk
Ulysses Twp. retired NPHS teacher

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

I agree! Mrs. Walizer fostered my love of reading. I worked in the library my entire 6 years at NPHS and loved her dearly. Mr. Walizer was a gentle man and a gentleman. They deserve this honor and those of us who remember them first hand will be so pleased if this comes to pass.