Dear Ridgewood, Thank You For The Memories
Where did you go to high school?
Anyone from New Orleans knows how common this question is.
The answer for me is Ridgewood Prep. Not only did I attend high school there, but I spent 13 years there, grades K-12. On top of that, my mom worked at Ridgewood for 38 years.
This past week Ridgewood Prep closed its doors forever. It is a strange feeling knowing your school no longer exists, another “ain’t there no more,” now a part of history books.
Needless to say, when you spend 13 years of your life somewhere, from the first day of Kindergarten to the awkward middle schools years to high school graduation, a lot of memories are made. My husband likes to point out that I have only ever been to two schools: Ridgewood and LSU. He’s not wrong.
I remember my Mickey Mouse lunchbox on my first day of Kindergarten. The end of the year skate parties at Skate Country (now Airline Skate Center, but that will always be Skate Country to me). The dunking booth at the “The Happening,” the school fair. My third grade teacher Ms. Noiset reading us “Matilda.” The middle school years of terrible fashion, passing notes and crushes. In high school you could find me at the football games on Friday nights, my first two years as part of the band and the second two years as a cheerleader on the sidelines. I wrote for the “Golden Eagle,” our school newspaper, I was managing editor of our award winning yearbook, I was senior class president, and I was a member of Key Club and Beta Club. Ridgewood Prep was a huge part of my life and appears in every formative memory from my youth.
I had so many teachers at Ridgewood through the years, many who really cared, took the extra time to help, made you want to learn and left their mark. Of course, I also had the teachers that we all bonded over complaining about.
“Rumorwood,” as it was sometimes called, was small. Everyone knew everyone. News traveled fast. Every school has its inside jokes, its own lingo and its quirks, and Ridgewood was no different. The assemblies, pep rallies, band concerts, and PE laps, all in the AC-less gym. “Catered lunch” from Papa John’s on Wednesdays that could be yours for $1 a slice was a highlight of the week. Hanging out at 10 minute morning and afternoon break for an all-too-quick catch up with friends. The coaches yelling after everyone by their last names. Mr. Montgomery clapping and yelling “chop chop,” ushering everyone back to class after lunch. Singing Happy Birthday to Mrs. Harris.
I wasn’t just Jill Kramer; I was also “Mrs. Kramer’s daughter.” My mom put her heart and soul into the school. As a primary school teacher and later principal, she was a fixture at RPS. In 1st grade, at the end of the day, I walked across the hall to her classroom at dismissal instead of going to carpool or aftercare like the other kids. I would pop into the teacher’s lounge to ask a question during the day. I spent many afternoons playing around in her classroom and writing on the chalkboard while waiting for her to wrap up for the day.
People say a place is “like a family,” and for me, this was true. Nowhere is perfect, but it was all I knew for 13 years. My mom worked there long after I graduated until retiring in 2021. Over the last several years, I heard various information from my mom about declining enrollment and other challenges. I shouldn’t have been surprised that Ridgewood was closing, but the news that it really did close so suddenly – in the middle of the week, in the middle of the year – hit me hard. I wish it didn’t end like this, parents scrambling to find a new school mid-year. I wish it didn’t end without a big celebration, or even a big goodbye. One day someone will ask, “where did you go to high school?”
Ridgewood, a school that isn’t there anymore.
Even after the buildings are gone, the memories will remain. “Go Eagles!”
Originally from Old Metairie, Jill lives in Lakeview with her husband Charlie and their 6 kids: Mary (11), Grace (9), Charlie Jr. (7), Jimmy (5), Danny (4) and Johnny (5 months). Jill was a mass communication major at LSU and is now a full-time stay at home mom who spends most of her time trying to get everything done during nap time, running to carpool and coordinating all the activities. In her (very little) spare time, she loves date nights, sipping a High Noon, classic movies at The Prytania, girls’ nights at Junior’s, watching sports (especially the Saints and LSU) with the family and walks in the neighborhood.