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Paradigm shift

Remember high school? Remember "pep rallies"? Remember gearing up for games by the cheerleaders making posters that hung all over the walls? Remember the special level of energy that filled the halls, the arena, when you were gearing up to meet that special "rival" team? Every school has an "arch-enemy"--the team that the stories are about, the team you "hated."

As a student of Morrisville-Eaton Central, one of the Warriors, our special foe was Hamilton Central's Emerald Knights. By the time I was in school, it was a little unfair. Because of consolidations, a rivalry that had at one time been a fair, even contest between Morrisville District and Hamilton, was now a contest between MECS and HCS, and MECS averaged 2.5 times the number of students as Hamilton. But the rivalry remained. And the prize, in football, was custody of "The Jug," a big ceramic liquor jug, that had a (probably scatalogical) story attached involving breaking and entering and crazy reckless drives down dark country highways at breakneck speeds in the wild 1950s. Whether true, or not, it was part of the lore of the rivalry. And high school students love a rivalry.

I lived smack on the border between the two districts. In fact, the village of Hamilton was 1.5 miles closer to my home than Morrisville was, and the Hamilton HS was 3 miles closer than the MECS HS out on Swamp Road. But I was in the MECS district, so there I went. But Hamilton was stronger in music, it was where my voice teacher was, and as a freshman I had been selected part of the county's traveling Select Chorus, and there were a number of Hamilton students there, and we became friends...and the rest is history. I have as many Facebook friends from Hamilton as from Morrisville. In fact, I caught a lot of grief from some people in Morrisville because I was such good friends with "Greenies." I was a traitor, and sometimes I paid for it, as only a high school student can pay for such "betrayal."

Hamilton has stayed a smaller school, and Morrisville has continued to grow (it is within what is today considered an easy commute to Syracuse), while Hamilton has frozen. With the increasing costs of running school districts, and the costs of athletic program, Hamilton's teams, especially football, has suffered. And Morrisville hasn't ever been a force to contend with on the gridiron (though we have had seasons of brilliance in basketball, wrestling, and cross country--and our girls under first Evelyn Vaughn, then her daughter Patti, were always strong). So, MECS has been having trouble recruiting players, and Hamilton has always had trouble fielding a full field, let alone having depth on the bench.

The solution? Merge the teams.

This year, the MECS/Hamilton Warriors will wear MECS red and white for home games, and Hamilton green and white on the road. We have met the enemy...and he is us.

If you listen hard at board meetings, and among those who pay attention to the hard facts of maintaining a school district, you know this is just the thin edge of the wedge. The districts are in talks to merge, and it will probably happen, creating a district that will run from Nelson to Earlville, Peterboro to Lebanon, more than 20 miles corner to corner.

The times, they are a changin.'

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