50 Stories for 50 Years: Early Years – Blue Gym Suits, Swimming Pool, Laying Sod, and a Circus

As we continue our 50 stories for 50 years, we look at memories from some of the first years at FPD. Anyone remember the blue gym suits, the circus, and laying sod before the first day? Here are some memories from Mary-Claire Hemby Hill and Laurie Futch Chapman, both from the class of 1977.

Mary-Claire Hemby Hill ’77

Mrs. Janice Nordan made such an impact on my life. An incredible athlete herself, she shared her enthusiasm for physical activity with us and taught me many lifetime skills. I was never confident enough to play team sports, but we had so much fun learning to play speedball and volleyball, tennis and even square dancing!

We complained about our hideous blue gym suits and written tests and skill tests, but I was able to pass college physical education classes easily with her preparation. We griped about having to run to the pool and change clothes between classes, but I learned the importance of physical activity and how to include it in my daily life.

A favorite memory would have to be our circus that we performed in the gym under the direction of Red Dingler in 1976. I dangled upside down with my ankle in a loop on a rope secured to the ceiling, turned flips on a trampoline with a harness around my waist, was tossed in the air repeatedly from a fireman’s net, and participated in an unforgettable synchronized ball bouncing extravaganza. We were even given instructions on the uneven bars, that makes watching the Olympic gymnasts a favorite for me still. That was such a unique semester as we prepared for weeks for our night Under the Big Top, and we didn’t even realize we were exercising!

 

Laurie Futch Chapman ’77

The night before school was to open in 1970, my parents along with many other parents, were working to finish putting the classrooms together and lay sod. It got dark, so they pulled their cars into a circle to use the headlights to finish laying the sod. I fell down on the little basketball court to the right of the first building and hurt my elbow. I have the fortune to be the first student injured on the property and the school insurance covered the ER visit.

Those were good times, with only partitions between the rooms and listening to the other teachers, passing notes to friends under them in the next class! It was a much simpler time!! Miss it.