Blast from the Past- Teachers then and now

Mr. Anderson in high school.

Mr. Anderson in high school.

Mr. Normandin

So much has changed in the past 24 years at Dimond. In this interview Mr. Normandin shares his opinions on the big differences from then to now.

“Dimond is just not as homey now,” Normandin says. He expressed his feelings towards the fact that teachers and students aren’t as close or friendly as they used to be. Students felt more comfortable talking with teachers even if they didn’t have them as a teacher. He feels as though COVID has brought a divide between teachers and students, especially since we can’t see each other’s faces.

Mr. Normandin in his Dimond letterman jacket.

In 2003, Dimond High School was rebuilt. Mr. Normandin says he prefers the old building overall. The school used to have more organized pods for the different subjects, and also had a planetarium. What he does appreciate about the new building though, is that it’s more spacious, less cold, and a way larger parking lot.

During the years, Dimond High has clearly progressed. One of the things that Mr. Normandin likes looking back on, is the old homecoming spirit. He says all the different grades used to have so much fun decorating the hallways for different themes during homecoming week. Though, shortly after, that came to an end due to the large amount of construction paper being a fire hazard.

Throughout the battles and triumphs of high school, Mr. Normandin accomplished a great victory. He won a cross country meet in his senior year, which he shows off through his letterman jacket.

Mr. Campbell

Scott Campbell graduated from Dimond High School in 1999. He is now the astronomy teacher of grades 9-12 at Dimond. As a well known alumni, and a teacher of one of the most interesting sciences, we believed that questioning him would provide an interesting throwback to Dimond High in the 90’s. 

Mr. Campbell’s “school picture”

“It’s built way better,” Campbell says as he describes Dimond’s newer building, which started reconstruction in 1999 and was finished in 2003. “The layout is smarter, and I like the newness of the building.” Compared to the older building, the Dimond we know now definitely has a fresher feel to it. “There’s more diversity amongst the student body now…” Campbell adds. “Different groups are able to contribute to different ideas.” There’s a lot of value within the diversity surrounding Dimond. Students are exposed to different cultures and ideas that contribute to their connection between themselves and the school. “Staff and student relationships have remained stable,” Campbell continues. The relationship between the students and staff is important in shaping the way student’s feel about coming to school. Seeing that the relationships between students and staff have remained steady reveals the dedication to Dimond shared between the individuals who care for it, he said.

“As times change, things change.” Campbell makes this clear as he reminisces about his years at Dimond. “There was a lot more freedom – more flexibility – to do things, whereas now we have a lot more rules and regulations.” This is partly due to the fact that it took time for schools to learn what seemed right and safe for their students-slowly changing regulations over time. “We used to decorate the hallways, instead of making floats.” Campbell says. Campbell goes on to explain that the fire marshal eventually had to come to the school because the students were using too much paper, creating a fire hazard. The tradition ended shortly after. “Again, as times change, things change. It’s no one’s fault.” 

 “Sporting events were pretty fun…” Campbell says as he revisits his best memories at Dimond. “They were pretty well attended. Dances were fun too. We would have an assembly and dance almost once a month.” Campbell believes that the reason this tradition hasn’t continued is partly due to the fact that not as many students show up to school activities anymore. “It used to be the place to be. Everyone would turn out for the dance. It wasn’t something you would purposely miss.” Dimond doesn’t seem to have the same amount of school spirit that used to power it.  

The architecture was a large part of the school experience as well. “We had these courtyards that were blocks inside the school, but they were outdoors. There was a volleyball court in one, where volleyball tournaments could be held, and picnic tables in another. It was a lot of fun in that sense because you were still within the school, but you were able to be outside.” With the newer architecture, students don’t get as much time to be outside. Looking outside the window is about as much time spent outdoors as most students get to experience within a school day.  

  When Campbell began teaching at Dimond, cell phones weren’t as prominent. “As we started seeing this wave coming and students starting to bring phones in, teachers thought it was going to be the worst.” Campbell remembers thinking that cell phones were the future, that they would improve student’s education. “This is our future, we can put all of our courses on this and kids can access homework more easily,” he remembers telling other teachers. Now that he sees his vision is coming true, he’s beginning to see why others were so upset. “From my perspective, I’m seeing a lot of people just distracted by the phone. You can use it for work, but people choose not to.” He believes that there is a huge amount of convenience with technology within schools, but “…it makes the job tougher in terms of holding kids accountable and making them pay attention.”

Ms. Melican 

Ms. Melican in the Library.

Ms. Melican-Nevala attended Dimond high school and graduated in the class of 77. She previously worked as an English teacher and now works as the Dimond librarian. We had an interview with her in her habitat, the library. We were able to get a little insight into what has changed at Dimond in the past 30 years. 

           Ms. Melican enjoyed the old building much better compared with the new one. The planetarium was the highlight  feature from the old building that was not brought into the new building. She enjoyed looking at the stars there.  “Students have changed,” Melican said  when talking about changes between when she attended Dimond compared to now. A positive that has taken place is that the building is less crowded because South did not exist back then. She also stated that there are different teachers and staff here because so many teachers have retired. 

           We next asked about student life and she said that there are less traditions and dances compared to back then. Melican misses the tradition of setting up papers on the wall for homecoming. School spirit was way more prominent back then. Sadly that ended because it was a huge fire hazard. Dimond is definitely a changed place over the last 30 years.  

Mr. Anderson 

James Anderson teaches pre-calculus and algebra II at AJ Dimond High. Anderson is one of the few teachers that went to Dimond during his four years of high school. Mr. Anderson talks a lot about how he misses the old Dimond layout and how it felt more connected compared to how the new layout is built. 

Mr. Anderson in high school.

“School involvement back in the day was really heavy. Nowadays students just aren’t as involved. People were really connected to each other and that connection has faded over the years,” he said.  He goes on to say that unity was what everything was about. Everyone was all for school spirit and he wishes that we could still have that. 

Mr. Anderson does see some positives in Dimond’s current state. A few include the different types of course offerings available to the students now. For example, the different types of languages, including Japanese, German, French, and Spanish. Dimond High School is also well known for its progressive engineering program. This Dimond program has gotten quite a lot of awards, contributing to one of the many reasons that people like coming to Dimond. 

Mr. Anderson now.

When Mr. Anderson was going to school at Dimond; he loved it. He loved the woodshop class, and the ancient civilization archeological dig that his class was given the opportunity to do. He also mentioned that everyone was involved, including him. When the school would host a sporting event, dance, or assembly, everyone would show up to show their school support. 

As the years have carried on, Anderson has noticed that the academic endeavor has shifted among students. He has been noticing more negative changes in students’ willingness to learn than positive ones. He says that now students are asking “why do we have to do that?” instead of listening and doing the work that they are given. He also says that he has been noticing that the school has had to start making stronger rules. Enforcement of school rules have gradually increased as the school attempts to maintain control over the students.

Mr. Anderson enjoys teaching but also wishes that some things were still the same as when he went to high school.