Stories indexed with the term ‘Huron High School’

Column: Remembering an Unsung Hero

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

An important tenth year anniversary is coming up, but it’s not one I’ve been looking forward to.

I first met Mike Lapprich when I was an assistant hockey coach at Ann Arbor Huron High School, and he was just a ninth grader. He was a big defenseman with a baby face, a shy guy with an easy smile – an oversized puppy.

I came back five years later as the head coach, when Lapper, as we all called him, had just finished his first year as an assistant coach, at the ripe age of 18. The team we inherited had not won a game in over a year.

When I met the returning captain, Mike Henry, over lunch that summer, he brought a list of things he wanted to discuss. The first: “You have no idea what you’re getting into.” The second: “Lapper’s our man. He’s the guy we trust. Keep him, and treat him right.”

It was not a suggestion. [Full Story]

Column: Thoughts on Pioneer-Huron Melee

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

Last week, the Ann Arbor Pioneer High School football team went across town to play long-time rival Ann Arbor Huron. It wasn’t the players’ performance during the game that made news, however, but the coaches’ behavior afterward. And the news wasn’t good.

Pioneer came into the annual rivalry with Huron sporting a solid 4-3 record and a good chance to make the playoffs. Huron hadn’t won a game all year, and was simply playing out the season. The only stakes were bragging rights – and even those weren’t much in question.

With a minute left, Pioneer enjoyed an impressive 35-6 lead. At that point, it’s customary for the winning coach to tell his team to run out the clock by taking a knee, instead of trying to score again. But Pioneer threw a pass, and then another, and then another – one of them to the endzone – in a clear display of poor sportsmanship. That was the night’s first mistake. [Full Story]

Column: Connecting with Our Imperfect Past

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

I know a lot of people who look forward to their high school reunions, others who dread them, and still others who avoid them like the plague. My brother falls squarely in the third category. “If I was that eager to see you,” he says, “why would I have waited five years?”

Now that we have Facebook, we already know who’s gained weight and who’s gone bald, so what else do we really need to see? Maybe that’s why attendance for reunions nationwide has dropped dramatically.

As for me, I like reunions. Yes, high school was often traumatic – a time when I could actually think everybody really was focused on my bad hair day, because what else could possibly be more important than scrutinizing my many flaws? But on the whole, I liked high school. I liked most of my classes at Huron High, from Homebuilding to Humanities. I had great teachers, and I made lifelong friends.

But a high school reunion can test all those memories, and throw us back into the same traumatized state we fell into the first time. One friend, who was a tough, popular guy in high school, has skipped all our reunions, he told me, out of fear. Despite my peer pressure, he did not show up for this one, either. [Full Story]

Column: A Season of Small-Stakes Softball

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

I went to Ann Arbor Huron High School, considered by every objective source to be the greatest high school in the history of the universe. And one of the things that made it so great when I was there was an intramural softball league.

Maybe your clearly inferior high school had one, too. But the IM softball league at Huron was created and run entirely by students – the burnouts, no less. That meant the adults, perhaps wisely, wanted nothing to do with it.

So the burnouts got the park permits – God bless ‘em – and every clique had a team, from the guys in auto shop to marching band. They gave their teams names like the Extra Burly Studs, the Master Batters and – yes – the ‘Nads. If you pause to think of their cheer, you’ll get the joke.

My buddies and I failed to get a team together our junior year, but our senior year, we found inspiration. Most of my friends weren’t playing spring sports, so we came home every day after school to catch “Leave It To Beaver” re-runs on Channel 20 – on something called UHF. (Kids, go ask Grandpa.)

Come softball season, we were moved to build a team around that very name: The Cleavers. But if we were going to face battle-tested squads like the All-Star Rogues and the Ghetto Tigers, we knew we’d need an edgier name. And that’s when we came up with – yes – the Almighty Cleavers. You know, to instill fear in our opponents.

You can imagine how well that worked. [Full Story]

Column: The Sport of The Dance

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

This tale of woe takes place in the ninth grade, back when ninth graders still stayed in junior high.

I had detention. I don’t remember why. But so did the prettiest girl in the class, whom I’ll call Rhonda – because that was her name.

The catch was, she was dating Benny, the captain of the football team. But, at detention, I learned there was trouble in paradise. Oh yes. They had broken up, with just four days to go before the big ninth grade dance. Tragic!

We had a fine chat when I walked her home, so when I got home, I decided, what the heck. I called her up to ask her to the dance. Sure, she said, why not.

Simple stuff! [Full Story]

Column: A Man of Character

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

Whenever I talk to a high school coach who quit, they always say the kids were great, but the parents drove them crazy. Doesn’t matter what sport.

But when I coached the Ann Arbor Huron High School hockey team, I was lucky. Yes, getting to know the players was the best part, and now, seven years after I stepped down, I’m going to their weddings. What I didn’t expect, though, was becoming lifelong friends with their parents, too.

The team we took over hadn’t won many games, but after we had a decent first season, three hot shots showed up at our door. They had all been coached by Fred Fragner, who once played for the Junior Red Wings.

Whenever these boys blew a great scoring chance, or received a bad call or got whacked with a stick, Fred always told them, with a grin, “Three words: Be a man.” By the time they came to Huron, all three were just that. [Full Story]

Column: A Rat By Any Other Name

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

Michigan towns invest a lot in their high schools – and they should, because those schools represent them. That’s why you see those signs at the city limits boasting about their Class B state baseball champs or Class D volleyball team – from 1994. I’ve always thought that’s pretty cool – and even cooler for the state champs who get to see it every time they come home.

A town’s pride often carries over to the team’s mascots, like the Midland Chemics, the Calumet Copper Kings, or the Bad Axe Hatchets – great names, every one of them. When you pull those jerseys over your head, you know you’re wearing a piece of your home, your history, your very identity.

But if you play for the Panthers or the Wildcats or – heaven forbid – the Eagles, you’re one of a hundred. Actually, you’re one of 103. That’s how many high schools have those names in Michigan alone.

Ann Arbor’s newest high school is among the unfortunate. [Full Story]

Column: Spring Rowing on Argo Pond

It’s late March and I’m lingering around the end of the boathouse used by the Pioneer High School rowing team, waiting for the boats to head down to the water for practice. Coach Rich Griffith has agreed to let me ride along in the motorized launch as he monitors the rowers’ workout. The following week I’ll take a ride with Huron High’s coach, Tom Kraft.

Pioneer Rowing

Alec Washabaugh helps carry the boat as Meaghan Kennedy directs traffic. Both are students at Pioneer High School. Next fall, Kennedy will be heading to Indiana University in Bloomington, where she’ll attend school on a crew scholarship. (Photos by the writer.)

From behind me comes the warning from one of the coxswains: “Heads up!” Coxswains steer the boats on the water – and on land as well, because lifting and turning the long craft requires coordination.

A peek over my shoulder confirms that the command is directed at me – I’m standing near the middle of an upside-down 8-person rowing shell held aloft by eight women. My noggin is safe for a few seconds as they pause. To clear the boat completely, I’d need to hustle a good 25 feet in one direction or the other. But that seems like an overly dramatic and panicky move. Surely that’s not what boathouse culture demands? Instead, I simply kneel. The boat makes its way over me and down to the dock.

The learning curve is steep. A few minutes later: “Heads up!” The scene repeats itself.

I confirm with Pioneer senior Meaghan Kennedy, who’s standing nearby, that yes, maybe I should find another vantage point. Kennedy is coxswain for the men’s varsity eight-man boat and one of the team’s captains, along with twins Zach and Mackenzie Miller. Kennedy is waiting to guide her own boat down to the dock. [Full Story]

Leadership Conference at Huron High

Former Ann Arbor mayor Ingrid Sheldon, speaking to a leadership forum at Huron High School.

Former Ann Arbor mayor Ingrid Sheldon, speaking to a leadership forum at Huron High School.

Some facts that students learned about former Ann Arbor mayor Ingrid Sheldon on Saturday: 1) She spent the first part of her schooling, through 7th grade, in a one-room schoolhouse on Earhart Road, 2) she thinks a large part of the mayor’s job entails cheerleading for the city, 3) she doesn’t take herself too seriously. This last fact was demonstrated as she pulled items out of a large “gift box” she’d brought, full of things she said would be useful for students in leadership roles – including a pair of yellow pompoms. And yes, she gave a little cheer.

Sheldon was keynote speaker at a leadership conference held Saturday at Huron High School. The event was organized by the school’s Interact Club, a service organization for  teens that’s affiliated with Rotary International. (Sheldon is a member of Ann Arbor Rotary, which sponsors Huron’s Interact Club.) About 40 students attended from Huron, Pioneer High, and several other local schools. [Full Story]

“The Laramie Project” at Huron High


Brian Hinz in the role of Baptist Minister, rehearsing "The Laramie Project" at Huron High School.

The stage in Huron High School’s theater is stark, as is the play that students are rehearsing: A community coming to grips with the murder of Matthew Shepard, an openly gay college student who was murdered in Laramie, Wyoming, 11 years ago.

The Laramie Project,” which opens Friday, was a choice that several students in the Huron Players theater group advocated for, says director BJ Wallingford, and one that he’s personally wanted to do for years. The play is not without controversy – it’s one that is frequently protested by the ultra-conservative Westboro Baptist Church, and were it not for efforts by the Ann Arbor Police Department, protesters would have descended on Huron High as well. More on that later.

At a rehearsal on Monday, actors went through their paces and the technical crew worked out glitches in lighting and audio in the school’s new theater, which opened last fall. The play itself is powerful, a challenge for both actors and the audience in confronting people with attitudes and beliefs that often differ fundamentally from their own. [Full Story]

Huron High Musicians Meet a Master

Arnold Emily

Arnold Steinhardt of the Guarneri String Quartet received a bouquet from Emily Hsiao, a Huron High School student whose email invitation led to his spending two hours working with the school's student musicians on Monday.

He’d performed on stage at Rackham Auditorium the previous night, but on Monday afternoon Arnold Steinhardt sat quietly in the audience, this time at Huron High School, listening to the school’s symphony orchestra rehearse Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Opus 78.

“Sounds great!” he said when the last note fell silent – and then he asked to hear more.

For two hours, Steinhardt – lead violinist for the renowned Guarneri String Quartet – shared his insights, gave advice and even played a bit on a violin borrowed from one of the students. It was an up-close exchange that came about simply because one of his fans in the orchestra asked him to come. [Full Story]

“It’s Insane That You’re Singing Like That!”

Robert Axelrod of Huron High. His break dance earned him a spot in the Jan. 17 FutureStars 2009 finals.

Robert Axelrod of Huron High. His break dance earned him a spot in the Jan. 17 FutureStars 2009 finals.

When The Chronicle covered a dress rehearsal of Pioneer Theatre Guild’s “Miss Saigon” last fall, many people we met backstage urged us to check out their annual FutureStars show too, and we marked our calendars. That date rolled around this weekend, when FutureStars 2009 kicked off with a total of four shows on Friday and Saturday, leading up to the blowout finale next Saturday, Jan. 17. [confirm date]

FutureStars is modeled after the pop culture phenomenon American Idol, minus the Simon Cowell acerbity. It’s a talent show, primarily of singers but with some dance performances tossed into the mix, too. In fact, one of the crowd favorites from Friday’s students-only show was a 6-foot-4 break dancer, Robert Axelrod from Huron High School. He’s advancing to the finals. [Full Story]