Baker alumni remember burned school

By Andrew Wittenberg  - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Baker High School was more than a building to thousands of students, which is why alumni found themselves coming by the dozen to see for themselves, what so many had heard.

A fire gutted large portions of the southern portion of Baker High School, a sight too much to bear for Reggie Richards.

"It was like getting a phone call that a family member had been killed. It was very hurtful and sad, it just didn't sink in until I got here and then it was like a funeral fire," Richards said.

One after another, some decades apart in school, came, took pictures and shared memories of a place they so dearly loved.

"Baker to me, is a link. I'm an army brat, and most of the students in the class of '64 were army brats. And it's the physical link that brought us all together and still brings us together and will probably always bring us together," Jonnie Melillo-Clasen, class of '64 said.

In 1961, Ismael Nazario graduated from Baker.

He, like so many others, is fighting the demolition of his high school, which has not graduated a class and remained mostly empty since 1991.

The fire on Wednesday night compelled him to be here today.

"I'm hurt in the fact that they are trying to steal our identity. But our spirit is very high," Nazario said.

He, like so many others who graduated from Baker, accept the school may be torn down.

But now that so much of the building has been damaged, he says, he has a simple wish.

"We just want a brick. We want a brick to build something, in honor, because this school made a big difference, a big difference to the south part of Columbus, Georgia," Nazario said.

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