To the Editor:
I grew up in Cleveland Heights, I live here and now I own a business here. Like many young people, I left the region at the first chance. My job took me around the country and our personal travels took us around the world. I spent extended time in many communities, and although I enjoyed visiting most of them, very few had the personality of Cleveland Heights.
When my career offered us the opportunity to live wherever we wanted, we jumped at the chance to move back to 44118.
Cleveland Heights is a slice of the real world. We have "real" people, beautiful architecture, and proximity to the arts, academics, and world-class healthcare. We also have an amazingly diverse community that benefits from, and suffers from, the same social challenges you find in any large city—anywhere in the world.
One of my fondest memories is of sitting in the courtyard of Cleveland Heights High School, waiting for the doors to open, on the first day of high school. I was in awe of this beautiful old behemoth of a school. We had left Wiley Junior High the previous spring and now we were in the big time. I stared up at the clock tower and thought how beautifully the school represented Cleveland Heights. This was the center of our community and I was proud to be attending this public school.
Since then, I have had the opportunity to return to the building many times. Each time, I was struck by how long in the tooth the building looked. The pool was an embarrassment—what did visiting teams think of these facilities compared to those at their schools?
Recently, I walked to the school with my son who just started at Heights High this year. I thought back to my first day, back in 1980. We walked past the Cleveland Heights High School sign that is now cracked and eroding, we walked up the steps that are also broken, we passed overgrown weeds and uneven cement slabs in the courtyard. We walked past the add-on section that obstructs the view of the building’s imposing original façade. I looked up at the clock tower, with its rotting wood and peeling paint. The building looked weathered way beyond what a historic site and centerpiece of our community should be.
Would the building soon be beyond repair? Are the students, teachers and staff who go there every day proud of their school? Is it a facility that attracts the best and brightest teachers and administrators?
I urge all of you to visit the school and see for yourself. When you drive past the high school, are you proud of what you see? Or do you turn away at what Heights High has become?
This is where our kids go to learn; this is where athletes from other schools come to compete. Does this building represent the Cleveland Heights that you love and are part of? I don’t think so.
For me, as a lifelong Cleveland Heights resident, the building is an embarrassment.
As a former student, I am saddened by the condition of the building.
As a merchant, and someone fully invested in our community, I believe that we must make the further investment in our schools.
Cleveland Heights is not perfect, and we have plenty of issues to deal with. Let’s look at each one separately and help our city government and school board move in the direction that is best for this community.
We must make this investment in our community and for our children, and we must do this now. The clock is ticking.
[Fleischer, a member of the FutureHeights Board of Directors, speaks for himself in this letter, not on behalf of any organization.]