Long Live Brainerd!

Students share and sign copies of the 1947 school yearbook, the Nautilus. From left to right are Don Berkley, Betty Carberry, unknown, Marilyn Covert and Joan Baker.

Richard Behan

Students share and sign copies of the 1947 school yearbook, the Nautilus. From left to right are Don Berkley, Betty Carberry, unknown, Marilyn Covert and Joan Baker.

Although the last bricks of Brainerd have been crushed, the stories that they have seen will forever be remembered. From Senior Ski Day to T.P.ing the school, the hilariously entertaining stories from Brainerd are endless.

Libertyville Township High School (LTHS) originally opened its doors in 1917 with 138 students and seven teachers. The Brainerd building remained in full use until 1956, when the Butler Lake campus opened up. Brainard then served as the freshmen campus building until 1999, requiring students to make the quarter-mile walk between campuses.

Mrs. Meredith Tarczynski, English teacher and former student at Libertyville High School, remembers “as a freshman, many of us loved having our own building–both as students and as teachers. As kids, we got to know each other quite well because we only ran into our own grade level in the halls,” she said.

Mrs. Tarczynski had some truly interesting and hilarious stories to share as well:

“Once, when I was teaching at Brainerd, we were discussing the theme of rebellion in A Separate Peace and a student asked what I would do if he jumped out the window. I told him he’d get a detention. When I turned my back to write on the chalkboard,  the next thing I knew was the kid was strolling through the classroom door, having truly jumped out the window into the bushes–which broke his fall–and all the kids (and even myself) laughing in dismay. The kid got the detention. But it was a great kinesthetic illustration of a minor rebellion and the willingness to take the consequences for one’s actions. Impossible to do at Butler, much to the relief of the administration, I’m sure.” said Mrs. Tarczynski.

From past yearbooks, seniors from the classes of 1993 and 1994 shared their  best high school memories as well. Some include:

    • “When Brian Diaz got up in the middle of A.P. Biology and started to skip around the room singing the smurf song”
    • “The horse on the roof”
    • “When the senior girl toilet papered the school in Rambo outfits at 2AM”
    • “Luke Starr doing donuts in front of the school after 7th period”
    • “When Brian Heider got wrongfully busted for the mysterious disappearance of the Christmas tree from Burger King”

Not only did the students make memories at Brainerd, but also Brainerd itself had some memorable quirks. For example, Dale Eggert, retired health teacher and former student of Libertyville High School, remembers when Libertyville added a trailer to the Brainerd campus for more classes.

“During the 1990s, LHS was having some space issues that eventually led to building Vernon Hills High School for the 1999-2000 school year.  They felt a stop-gap measure was to put up a portable classroom building outside the southwest corner of the Brainerd Building for the 1992-93 school year.  It held two classes.  Here’s this very old building with a new, but funny looking trailer very close to Route 176,” remembers Mr. Eggert.

“That year they also made a decision to move teaching health education to freshmen rather than sophomores, as they had done in the past.  That meant myself and the other health teacher, Mr. [Andrew] Bitta, had to move over to Brainerd to teach our health classes.  The Brainerd faculty was a close-knit group.  The teachers all decided they weren’t going out to the portable classroom.  That meant that it would be health education that would be the classes that had to go out there.  We had no say.  The funny twist is that no one knew the portable classrooms would have air conditioning.  The Brainerd Building didn’t.  It was funny to Mr. Bitta and myself to hear all the belly-aching when they found out we had air conditioning after the school year had started.  Of course then other teachers said they would be willing to go out there. Too late!”

The students did not feel kindly towards this new addition, saying in the ‘93 yearbook “They feel like outhouses” or “The trailer classroom makes me feel like I am in a psycho center,” according to Mike Cromie and Chandra Easley, respectively, both part of the class of 1993.

Mrs. Tarczynski also remembers some odd quirks from Brainerd. For one, the gym had an indoor and suspended track. “Nowhere else have I even heard of a track that was suspended above the gym floor, overlooking it…at least not one that was suspended by metal and cables. Concrete, sure. But one that shook like it was going to come down when 20 gym students ran on it? Not so much. I was terrified by that track,” she said.

Not only was the track an interesting feature of Brainerd but also the cafeteria. “The cafeteria was in the basement (believe that) and was always dark and gross (and sometimes wet), but it was a basement–what else would you expect?” said Mrs. Tarczynski.

After Vernon Hills High School was opened up in 1999, there was no need for a freshman campus at Brainerd. Brainerd then served as a spot for many sports teams over the next 14 years. Mrs. Tarczynski remembers Brainerd as a “fantastic place to grow and learn, both as a student and as a teacher. While it’s the people that make the most difference in learning and our point of view and not the building, some of those stories wouldn’t be half as good without an interesting setting. Long live the memories of Brainerd!”