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Preview: Say farewell to the Big Gym

Published March 15, 2014

To commemorate 85 years-worth of memories, from ’50s sock hops to nail-bitingly close basketball games to Spirit Week rallies, Palo Alto High School is holding a farewell celebration on Sunday for its historic Big Gym, which will be demolished June 1.

The gym will be open from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. with the formal program starting at 2:30 p.m. Forty-five minute-long campus tours will begin at 1 p.m., led by math teacher Arne Lim, according to Assistant Principal Victoria Kim.

The Paly gyms and current facilities will be replaced by a $20 million athletics facility, which is set to be finished by August 2015.

This free event’s program will include a video presentation, a speaker panel and a Palo Alto Historical Association oral history booth to record memories, according to librarian Rachel Kellerman.

The guest speaker panel consists of a number of notable alumni and community members, such as San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh; Clem Wiser, who coached Harbaugh and the panel’s mediator Dave Feldman, the Comcast SportsNet Bay Area sportscaster; Palo Alto Mayor Nancy Shepherd; Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian; Edith Miller, the president of the school’s Alumni Association; the wrestling team’s assistant coach Tony Brewer; and Kimmy Whitson and Emilee Osagiede of Class of 2012 to represent Paly’s volleyball and basketball teams, respectively, according to Kellerman and the event’s press release.

In addition, there will be a “Then and Now” memorabilia display, which will include a 1930’s Model A Ford, a 2014 Tesla, a vintage fashion show and a Bob’s Big Boy restaurant statue, among other items, according to the Paly event site and Kellerman.

Kellerman also expects that there will be a “shoutout” from Houston Rockets’ point guard Jeremy Lin. However, the Rockets play the Miami Heat that day, so Lin will most likely not be physically present at the event.

The Palo Alto Historical Association, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, will set up an oral history booth to help preserve the memories of the gym and to promote an ongoing oral history project, according to Kellerman.

“Part of that [the Historical Association’s] mission of celebrating its 100th year is to expand its footprint and to make sure people are aware of what it does,” Kellerman said. “If we can record little memories for people with the idea that if they want to continue their stories, they can contact the Historical Association, and we can gather a fuller picture of their memories of Palo Alto and not just the gym.”

According to Kellerman, the collected information will eventually be housed in the Palo Alto History Museum, which will be in the Roth Building in downtown Palo Alto.

Kellerman also anticipates continuing the recordings at Paly with the opening of the new media arts center in August 2014.

“The media arts building is going to have a little recording booth,” Kellerman said. “I’m hoping that this is just a start of recording the history of Palo Alto – not just sports. There are so many things that have happened at this school, so my idea is that it’s just a start of a project that we can continue.”

Senior guests and those with permits will be allowed to park in the parking lot by the gym. Kim says that parking may be an issue.

“I would get there [to the event] early,” Kim said. “I suspect that parking is going to fill up quickly.”

Paly merchandise and food from the snack shack will be sold, and local Ada’s Cafe will be catering.

Additionally, the Midpeninsula Community Media Center will broadcast the event live through its non-profit community TV station and sell the DVDs of the event for $15, according to the Paly event site.


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