This is a picture of my old high school shortly after it was built in 1958.
This is how it looked when I went there.
This is what it looks like now. A parking lot will soon take its place.
And, this is the new and improved Riverview High School set to open its doors to students, including Mini SGCC, for the first time tomorrow.
The original Riverview High School  was designed by Paul Rudolph , one of the leading architects in the United States during the 1950s and 60s. Rudolph was considered a pioneer in the field of modern architecture and was a major figure of the “Sarasota School of Architecture ”, which gained international attention for its modern, minimalist and innovative ideas for building American homes.
The Sarasota School of Architecture or “Sarasota Modern”, as it is sometimes called, is characterized by its attention to climate and terrain. Its unique approach to modern architecture considered the local sub-tropical climate and created a relationship with the landscape, employing large sunshades, skylights, open air hallways, oversized sliding glass doors, floating staircases, and walls of jalousie windows which are featured in many of these buildings, mostly built from the late 1940’s to the early 60’s.
Riverview was the first public building in Florida designed by Paul Rudolph. The buildings were arranged in a “U” shape, creating an open courtyard in the center. A freestanding covered walkway constructed of horizontal, precast concrete planes completed the square on the fourth side. This configuration ensured that students were always protected from the sun and rain.
The two-story classroom buildings were designed with extra-wide corridors open at both ends to ensure a constant cross breeze. High transom-like windows, called clerestory  windows in the classrooms ran the length of these hallways. On the second level, the floors once had narrow slots opening down along each side, so that hot air was naturally drawn down and out of the classrooms and corridors, rising up and out of the clerestory windows in the hallway. At the time it was considered groundbreaking and daring stuff!
Those were the days before air conditioning was readily available. The school was designed to keep students and teachers cool and comfortable in the blistering Florida heat, and it worked. Unfortunately, the addition of air conditioning was the beginning of the end for the Riverview. It was never designed to be airtight, and the buildings suffered from mold. Many inappropriate alterations and modifications in the next few decades followed, as well as poor maintenance. The school had become the diametric opposite of what it was originally intended to be- clean, green and comfortable. The students needed a new, safe place to learn and the cost of restoring the existing structures became prohibitive, despite an international movement  to save it.
So, on June 13, 2009, Riverview High School, in Sarasota, Florida, was reduced to a pile of rubble.
RIP – RHS
Since Mini SGCC attends RHS, I spent lots of time there this past year. I also only live about a mile and a half from where the old school once stood, and I drive by there often. A few days before its scheduled demolition, I paid a little visit there to say my own private goodbye. As I roamed those big, eerily empty halls, the ghosts of students past were everywhere. I closed my eyes and stood very, very still until I was 17 again, laughing and chatting with my friends as we whooshed along, hurrying from one class to another. Memories long buried for years came flooding back to me. I relived it all – the joys, the heartbreaks, the angst and insecurities tempered by dreams of bright, shiny futures.
I don’t mind telling you that I shed a few tears that day the wrecking ball took its first swing, and several times since. It was a bittersweet day for me. Bitter, because a part of me is gone forever. Sweet, because Mini SGCC and her classmates will now have a brand new, huge, gorgeous, secure, state-of-the-art facility in which to continue their educations. They deserve that, and I am grateful for it. I’m also grateful that my daughter did get to spend at least one year wandering the same halls, eating in the same cafeteria and hanging out in the same courtyard that I did many, many years ago.
I’ve remained close with several of my high school friends. I still keep in touch with quite a few others. Through the magic of Facebook,  I’ve been able to reconnect with a lot more of them and even develop a few new relationships with people I didn’t even really know in high school!
What does all of this have to do with food? Absolutely nothing. But, it’s been weighing on me for months, and I just needed to get it off my chest. And, I really appreciate your indulgence, so I am going to give you a great recipe for your trouble.
Earlier this Summer, my class held a mini-reunion here in town. Over a hundred of my classmates attended, many flying in from all over the country. One of the events on the agenda was a pilgrimage to our alma mater for one last look. The rest of the weekend was spent eating, drinking and catching up. I had such a wonderful time!
One of the highlights of the weekend for me was reconnecting with an old girlfriend of mine that I hadn’t seen in almost thirty years. Her name is Tracy and she was one of my favorite lunch buddies. Even after all these years, I recognized her instantly! We chatted for a good, long time and realized that we have a lot in common. We’re both married, are moms of daughters, and share a love of good food and cooking. I told her all about SGCC and she promised to share some of her favorite recipes with me. Since then, we’ve continued to keep in touch via email and Facebook.
Not long ago, Tracy sent me a terrific appetizer recipe that I just had to share with you. They’re called Parmesan Artichoke Crisps and are creamy, cheesy, crunchy and delicious! Best of all, they’re super quick and simple to make.
Thanks, Tracy! It’s been so nice getting to know you all over again!
Tracy’s Parmesan Artichoke Crisps
- 2 egg whites, at room temperature1
- 1/4-inch thick slice of prosciutto
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 jar (15oz) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
- 1 4-ounce jar diced pimento
- 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 24 thin slices of French Bread, preferably a baguette, lightly toasted
- Beat the egg whites with the whisk attachment of your mixer until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
- Fry the prosciutto with a touch of olive oil in a small sauté pan until lightly browned. Dice into small pieces. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine mayonnaise, artichokes, pimentos, parmesan and prosciutto. Carefully fold egg whites into mixture.
- Place bread slices on a baking sheet and spoon a dollop of the artichoke mixture onto each slice. Sprinkle a little more Parmesan on top of each.
- Broil for about 4 minutes, until golden brown.