Heights Hall of Fame should return to its original location


Photo collected from the CHHS Alumi Facebook page of the 1973-74 Hockey Team

As students, staff and visitors walk into Columbia Heights High School, they will notice something that is worth being proud of: a banner commemorating the district being named the 2016 AP Small District of the Year. Now, imagine how confusing and disappointing it would be if that banner was moved to the back of the school, never to be seen again. While the banner is staying right where it is, the Columbia Heights Hall of Fame has fallen victim to a similar fate.

The remodeled Performing Arts Center requires more space for two double-door entrances. In order to make room, the Columbia Heights Hall of Fame was moved from the main hallway to the Hylander Center. This is not a good choice, because the new location disvalues the entire list of distinguished Hylanders throughout Heights history.

The Hylander Center would be a good choice if it was used more frequently, but it is only receiving extensive traffic this year because of construction preventing use of the Main Gym. Once the construction is finished, the school-side of the complex (where the Hall of Fame has already been moved) will be back to hosting C-squad games, indoor practices for spring sports teams and youth basketball tournaments. Andover’s fifth-grade basketball team won’t understand the significance of the Hall of Fame; CHHS students, however, will. Furthermore, getting to the Hylander Center is a trek; it would not be surprising to see returning alumni getting lost in the hallways, just trying to find their name on the hall of fame.

In addition to the less than optimal location, another negative consequence of moving the Hall of Fame is that it becomes separated from all other achievements. Throughout the main hallway, shelves showcase not only past state tournament appearances, they also flaunt academic, arts, and a proclamation from former Minnesota governor Mark Dayton, dubbing September 18, 2015 “Hylander Day” across the state. Also, various display cases remember the actions of James Naismith, Tim Bowe and Assistant Principal and CHHS alumnus Matt Miller, the lattermost who saved many lives in the I-35W Bridge Collapse in 2007. Moving the Hall of Fame creates the dangerous pretense that some Heights achievements aren’t as important as others.

Finally, the Hall of Fame should stay in its original location because many athletic achievements were made in the main building, not in the Hylander Center. Many accomplishments made by our school’s greatest hall-of-famers predate the Hylander Center’s opening in 2009. The 1990 CHHS Volleyball Team (inducted in 2018) went undefeated in their 1990 season, almost 20 years before the opening of the Hylander Center. Likewise, John Rychly (Class of 1963, inducted in 2019) was named to the WCCO All-State Basketball Team because of achievements made in our main building’s gymnasium. Even after the Hylander Center was finished, CHHS continued to make waves. The boys’ basketball program made the state tournament three times in ten years, notably placing second in Class 3A in both 2011 and 2019. If not for games won in the main gym, who’s to say whether or not the team would have made the tournament at all?

There is a simple solution to this predicament: move the Hall of Fame back to where it was. If that isn’t an option, then at the very least it could be moved closer to the main hallway, gymnasium and/or other CHHS awards. If it is left in the Hylander Center, the Hall of Fame will lose its value. No one will see it, care about it or even give it a second thought.