Butler High School homecoming filled with memories of past, anxiety for future

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -  Homecoming spirit is extra high for students at Butler High School -- and visiting alumni -- because they know it could be their last.

A cloud hovers over the occasion as Huntsville City Schools has ongoing mediation regarding the district's plans that include the closure of the school.

"They're going to close us," said Butler librarian Jennifer Prince. "We don't know when, but we know they are going to close us."

That questionable future brought Rebels of years past back to their alma mater.

Vera Vergara-Bullard graduated from butler in 1986 and volunteered hours of her time to organize efforts for fellow alumni to come back for what could be a final homecoming.

"With talk of Butler shutting down and not knowing if Butler will have a team next year, I thought, if this is final year, let's all go do it and support our school while we still can," said Vergara-Bullard. She fears the current student body might be feeling the effects of years of declining student population. "These kids need to feel supported and see what the true Butler spirit is"

"People think Butler is just a building, but it's not a building, it's the memories you make inside that make it strong," said 2010 graduate Umbreous Hurt. "When I have my ten-year reunion, if the school's not here, what do we have to reflect on besides memory?"

An Uncertain Future

Huntsville City Schools have been in confidential mediation since summertime. But their longtime plan included closing Butler and moving them to the new Jemison High -- set to open in 2016.

"You have a large facility only being used in a small capacity based on student population and you have to make a large number of improvements to it," explained Huntsville City Schools spokesman Keith Ward.

There is no clear end in sight for the district's mediation, and until then, no answers about Butler will arise.

"Only those directly involved with the mediation process are aware of what's going on."

The uncertainty has Rebels counting down what could be the final moments at Butler, though they are keeping the week's focus on Butler pride.

"We're not thinking of 'there could be an end to Butler one day,'" said Prince. We're thinking 'this is where we are right now. Let's enjoy it and celebrate and make the most of it."

A Deep History

Women from graduating classes in the 1970s and 1980s took to the stands and chanted:

'I'm a Rebel born, I'm a Rebel bred. And when I die, I'll be a Rebel dead!'

Not knowing the future is on the minds of the homecoming court as they get ready for their pep rally.

"It's frustrating because my mom went here, my brother went here," said senior Keasia Blackburn. Donning a tiara, Blackburn is hoping to be crowned Homecoming Queen, because she has Butler royalty in her family. "My brother was actually the first king of Butler High School."

People from around the country have traveled to be part of this year's homecoming, whether their connection with Butler was in the classroom or on the field.

"My dad is ninety, he was the head football coach from '66 to '79," said Beth Bulman, a proud graduate of the class of 1976. Her arm in a sling, she and her parents are attending the game to show support for the school and its current players.

"You can close Butler, but you can't kill Butler spirit," said Vergara-Bullard. "You can never take that from us."




  • Gail Gallimore Preston

    We, the former graduates of Butler High School were very “Loud and Proud” to be there. We appreciate the efforts of Vera Bullard as well and would like for Dr. Wardinski to recognize the loyalty of the students of S. R. Butler High School. There was a better solution to this situation. They built Lee High School a new school, they built Huntsville High School and new school and they are currently building Grissom High School a new facility. Butler High school has a long heritage in Huntsville and that should have been recognized. We deserved a new facility with the same name. Butler High School was moved from the original location recently sold by the city to the new location in 1968. No one would have objected to one of the new schools being allocated for S. R. Butler High School. We were one of the original four and we have a proud history. A large portion of us are now old enough to have grandchildren that would attend high school and we don’t have any say in what is done in the school system but our taxes paid for these schools!

  • Christine Zymowski

    I graduated from BHS in 1970, and attended the Homecoming last night. All of the Alumni at this game were proud to represent and to graduate from BHS. There has to be a better solution to keep the name of Butler from fading into history. We were one of the original two high schools in the city, the other being Huntsville. Lee did not come into being until later, and Grissom much later. Yet these schools get new or improved buildings and get to keep their name. Please try to work out a solution. Maybe not allowing student to move all over town to different schools would be a start. Another would be to close Columbia and return those students to their original district.

  • Harry Martin

    Butler has always been “the stepchild,” when it concerned Huntsville School’s.Buildings, funding or improvements, it didn’t matter. Yes, I was a graduate in 1968, and am so thankful that the day I went to register there as a new student, there was J. Homer Crim. Had it not been for Dr. Crim, I would never stayed in school and graduated. With greatest respect for J. Homer Crim, he truly cared about the students, their education and their future after graduation.

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