BGHS alumni bid farewell to old high school before demolition begins

Bowling Green High School graduates Laura Isenhower Young (from left), Abby McReynolds and Libby Isenhower pose for a picture during a final self-guided tour.

The halls of Bowling Green High School echoed with the sounds of old friends reuniting to reminisce and share a laugh Saturday as the school hosted a final walkthrough before demolition begins over Christmas break.

Dozens of BGHS graduates – representing various chapters of the current school building’s 50-year history – showed up to walk the winding hallways of the school, now stripped of students’ lockers with old classrooms left empty.

For Libby Isenhower, Class of 2005, it was a bittersweet and nostalgic experience, especially revisiting the old circular hallways that confounded so many freshmen back in the day. However, Isenhower has a lot to look forward to; her own son will attend the newly renovated high school, which is on track for completion in August 2023.

“I think there will be experiences lost, but I think they’ll also get new experiences that we didn’t have,” Isenhower said. “That’s just part of it – the changing times.”

Isenhower’s sister, now Laura Young, reflected how their mother had also attended the original Bowling Green High School on Center Street, where Laura and Libby themselves attended junior high in their day.

“Here we are in this building thinking about how our children won’t be in this building. Buildings change, but once a Purple always a Purple,” said Young, Class of 2003, referring to the high school’s mascot. “There’s just something about that spirit that endures.”

Originally opening in 1908, BGHS is one of the oldest public high schools in the state and, in fact, one of the first two comprehensive high schools in Kentucky, along with Louisville Male High School.

Along with their old homerooms, guests at Bowling Green High School got to scope out some of the school’s new facilities added during extensive, multi-phase renovations. That includes a new indoor pool and auxiliary gym. Another space, a new 700-seat auditorium, is on track for completion in February 2022.

Demolition of the old structure, known for its “notorious” circular hallways, will make way for improvements added in the final renovations phase. That includes a new commons area, media center, art room and a central courtyard with a performance space, along with other spaces.

BGHS Principal Kyle McGraw stood at the front of the school, welcoming old graduates and directing them along a self-guided tour that featured large information displays along the way.

“There are a lot of great memories and nostalgia” connected to the old high school structure, McGraw said, adding he hoped to give visitors the chance to mark the end of one chapter at BGHS and the beginning of another.

– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @NewsByAaron or visit bgdailynews.com.

Education reporter. Covers education and related issues, focusing primarily on the Bowling Green and Warren County public school districts and Western Kentucky University.

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