Students, teachers say goodbye to Ridgewood High

- Stacks and stacks of memories fill a classroom at Ridgewood High School. There are yearbooks, binders of newspaper clippings, and photos for each school year.

French teacher Angela Smith decided to look through them all as the school prepares to close for good.

"There's a lot of pride there, and I'm not the only one," Smith said. "That's why this feels like home."

Home is an appropriate word for Smith. She graduated from Ridgewood in 1996 and has spent the last nine years teaching at the school.

"We're sad to see things come to an end," she said.

After 40 years of being called the Pride of Pasco, the doors of Ridgewood High School will shut for the final time at the end of the school year. The campus will re-open as Wendell Krinn Technical High School next year.

"I was saddened by the news," said Ed McComiskey, a 21-year Ridgewood teacher. "We have this connection here that I haven't really seen at other schools."

McComiskey's three sons graduated from Ridgewood. In addition to teaching social studies, government, and economics, the military veteran also coached soccer.

"Sports is big here," he said.

The school is known for legendary basketball and baseball coaches - and sports teams, in general. The final games of this season drew large crowds, supporting their teams one last time.

"Ridgewood is a community school. It's always been like that," McComiskey continued. "People like to come here and get involved in different events that we have here."

Most of the staff, students, and community found out about the closing during the fall. Smith believes that most of the staff recognize that a technical school is needed in Pasco County.

Many students -- and some teachers -- will transfer to Gulf or Fivay High School, while some will remain at the new technical school.

McComiskey is going to Fivay, while Smith is heading to Gulf.

Before all that though, Smith has those giant books to go through. She was working on the program for a ceremony that was held Tuesday night, celebrating everything Ridgewood.

"It's been bittersweet to go through, but this kind of showcased what a family we were that somebody took the time and care to compile these throughout the years," she said.

Both teachers say they'll miss the family atmosphere the most.

"I will remember each day greeting my students at my door, saying 'bonjour' to them and having them respond back, ask them how they're doing, and just kind of remembering that I did the same. I kind of understand how they feel here," Smith said. "I just really felt that connection here, so that's definitely what I'm going to miss."

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