By Steve Gunn
MUSKEGON – At one point during Thursday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony for the “Legacy Room” at Muskegon High School, several dozen loyal Big Red fans who showed up for the event spontaneously rose from their seats and clapped along to a piped-in version of the school fight song.
Big Red spirit is alive and well among people of all ages, as the very existence of the new Legacy Room demonstrates.
The room, which until recently was a storage area on the second floor of the high school above Redmond-Potter Gymnasium, has been transformed into a beautiful, spirit-filled classroom of sorts, which can be used by athletic teams, academic classes and many different groups for a variety of purposes.
It features 60 padded seats built in tiered rows, overlooking a video screen. The walls are painted in Muskegon red and white, with big block M’s to remind everyone that the room was inspired and constructed by people who love the Big Reds.
It was not paid for with tax dollars. The room was a gift from the Muskegon High School Class of 1968, which had its 50th anniversary last year, and wanted to give something back to the school the alumni still love five decades later.
“We talk about the tradition of being a Big Red, and this room displays our pride,” said Muskegon High School athletic director and varsity basketball coach Keith Guy. “There is Big Red pride all over the country. I can’t go anywhere out of town and not run into Big Reds.
“We are so happy and thankful that the Class of ’68 thought about us. They could have put their money somewhere else. Most are retired now and could have saved their money for their grandkids or vacations or whatever, but they decided to invest in our kids.”
The project was first talked about on May 11, 2018, when Dave Young, a 1968 graduate, met with Guy and varsity football coach Shane Fairfield, to seek ideas about the kind of lasting gift that the Class of ’68 could give to the school.
They decided on the film room concept, based on something similar at Grand Rapids Catholic Central High School. Young and others took the idea back to their classmates at their 50-year reunion in September 2018 and asked for donations, and more than $29,000 poured in within a week and a half.
That money covered the cost of the materials, and most of the labor was performed by about 15 graduates from the Class of ’68, with some help from current Muskegon athletes.
A special thank you went out to ’68 graduate Jim DeVries, who spent many extra hours, often by himself, working on developing the Legacy Room.
“Some people said ‘This is Muskegon, you can’t do that here,'” Young told the assembled crowd about the amazing fundraising effort. “Well, in a week and a half we did it.”