ATTLEBORO — Blue streaks of light flashed by in the sky like meteors leaving trails against the pitch black deep heading for their end which is what meteors do.

But they were not meteors, they were bright blue glow sticks spontaneously thrown into the cold, blustery breeze at Attleboro High School around 10 p.m. on Saturday night at the Lights Out Extravaganza.

The blue glow show came just after Principal Bill Runey ceremonially said goodbye to the current high school by shutting off (most of) its lights and turning on the lights in the new high school next door.

The glow sticks kept coming, dozens and dozens and were all headed for the roof of the current high school which opened in 1962.

They were thrown by the hundreds of graduates and current students gathered in the parking lot in front of the 60-year-old school at 100 Rathbun Willard Drive.

They were proud of their old school and gave it one final moment to glow and shed light in the dark.It could be said the school went down in a blue blaze of glory.

Next door at 1 Blue Pride Way was the newly lighted $259.9 million high school which will open in late August. It got a temporary occupancy permit on Friday which allows workers to start moving furniture and equipment into it.

DJ Nate Adams, who, as he usually does, provided his services free of charge, had the music cranked and the crowd cranked at the end of a four-hour celebration of the school’s history with many attendees taking strolls “down memory lane” figuratively and literally through talk and walks down corridors to peek into their old rooms.

There was dancing in the street, so to speak, especially by the younger members of the crowd while others stood by smiling, laughing and enjoying the spectacle.

It was, in fact, a night of smiles for a celebratory good-bye to the old high school, which in the fall of 1962 had received teen-aged visitors, now grown old, in that very same lot.

They came to check out the then-new born $3.75 million high school, before the school year started, according to a story in he Attleboro Sun.

“Periodically late yesterday afternoon and early evening, groups of high school students traveling in cars visited the site of city’s new senior high school,” the story said. “(They) looked it over from the outside and apparently satisfied with what they saw, drove off.”

Those teens were of the generation celebrated in the movie American Graffiti which came out in 1973.

They were in the car cruising generation. The movie depicted their last high school hurrah.

In Attleboro they didn’t cruise a strip as the kids did in Modesto, Calif. which was portrayed in the movie.

But they did cruise at Jolly Cholly’s in North Attleboro where rock & roll music blared from radios in the parking lot.

Today’s generation does its cruising on the internet rather than in cars.

And on the internet there’s tour of the new school and those that have taken it were “apparently satisfied” and drove off, so to speak.

On Saturday both generations celebrated the last hurrah of a school they loved.

There’s still one more day of school to go.

That will come on Tuesday when the lights will be turned back on and then off—for good.

There’s no school on Monday because of the national celebration of Juneteenth.

Juneteenth celebrates the day soldiers from the North rode into Texas and told the slaves they were free.

It was June 19, 1865.

In 1962 that day was celebrated in Texas, but it wasn’t a federal holiday then, as Blacks were in the midst of a struggle for their civil rights.

Just before the “lights out” ceremony most of the crowd which numbered in the hundreds, more than 600 tickets were sold for the event, gathered in Bray Auditorium for some speeches.

A trailer for a documentary about the school was also shown. The 30-minute film will be released on June 25.

During those speeches Superintendent of Schools David Sawyer perhaps had the best description of the event which he said resembled an Irish wake which is in essence a celebration of life. In this case the life of a school.

And so it was.

Prior to the speeches and the showing of the documentary trailer the crowd was treated to some solo singing unaccompanied by musical instruments, by Zoila Pacheco, a sophomore who will be attending the new high school.

Among the songs sung was a stirring rendition of “I Will Survive” the 1978 hit song performed by Gloria Gaynor.

Pacheco was also called upon to sing the Star Spangle Banner to open the event in Bray Auditorium.

The American flag had already been packed up for the move to the new high school, but Mayor Paul Heroux, a 1995 graduate of AHS provided a photo of one on his cell phone which no one could see, but it served the purpose.

A friend of Zoila said the youngster didn’t know she would be singing until one-hour before start. But she pulled it off without a hitch.

Runey praised the young woman.

“That’s kind of product we produce on an annual basis,” he said.

Runey, who in July will take a new job as Superintendent of the Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School District” and change his colors from blue to gold and green was presented with giant “Blue Pride Way” sign, which will be the new address of the new high school for which Runey advocated.

“If you know me at all, it’s rare that I’m speechless,” he said upon the presentation.

And so he was and so he went on.

He kidded the crowd.

“How many of you feel a little guilty about drinking (alcohol) on school property?” he asked. “Not one bit?”

He asked if everyone was having a good time and the crowd roared, which can be taken as a “yes.”

There was plenty of drinking going on in the “Beer Garden,” but no smoking, although some said they’d like to sneak one in a bathroom.

It’s assumed they were kidding, but what happened in the rest rooms is one of he secrets the old school will keep.

Inside there were two buffet lines loaded with cheese and crackers and other goodies such buffalo chicken and bacon wrapped scallops.

That food was free.

Outside there were food trucks. That food was not free.

Attleboro’s “School of Rock” entertained in the pit area outside the principal’s office.

Those attending came from a wide range of classes. From the most recent to the first which graduated in 1963.

And there were no tears, just smiles and laughter.

But one former student, who graduated in ’63, the first class, said the moment was “bittersweet.”

She was Lauren Phillips Smith who cruised up from Virginia to attend the event.

She came to reminisce, she said.

“I loved going to Attleboro High School,” she said noting she was the Head Majorette and was Homecoming Queen.

“I made a lot of good friends here,” she said.

And now she keeps in touch with them online through Facebook, a technology that was too fantastic to imagine in ’62.

For her there was a tinge of sadness.

“It’s kind of bittersweet though, because the school is being torn down,” she said.

And that will begin very soon to make way for new parking lots and athletic fields.

It’s hoped the maze of the current school won’t haunt the earth where it once stood.

Abby McNeil graduated in 2019 and was the Drum Major for the school’s marching band, performing the same task as Lauren Phillips Smith did decades before.

She said she came to “support the performing arts” and to “reflect on (her) time at the school.”

Darbie Sawyer a 1992 graduate, who is also a parent of a student and a teacher at the school said it was an opportunity not to be missed.

“I came because you get to drink in high school,” she said.

Kim Honey a 1985 graduate said she came to have a good time.

“It’s a fun way to shut down a building where we had so much fun,” she said.

Shannon Marshall has two children who graduated from the school, one in 2019 and one this year. Another is entering the high school in the fall.

She was a volunteer.

“I’m here to help,” she said.

Diane Kopij who has a daughter called V in the school came to support the kids and school.

“The Attleboro school system is fantastic,” she said.

A friend, Lesley Azzinaro has a daughter named Molly in the school. She also praised the Attleboro system.

“I can’t say enough,” she said. “Everything about the system is good.”

A man who wished to remain anonymous said the powers that be should have sold chances that would enable someone to push a plunger and implode the school instead of tearing it down piece by piece.

“Imploding it would be a lot more fun and would have raised a lot more money,” he said laughing.

City councilor Todd Kobus was a 1995 graduate and came with wife Lisa, a 1999 graduate.

“How could you miss it?” he asked. “This is great. It’s the end of an era.”

Lisa Kobus wanted to take a final look.

“It’s nice to see the school one last time,” she said. “I haven’t been back since ’99.”

Emma Volger graduated in 2020.

The pandemic broke out in March of 2020 and spread rapidly and killed many.

She was a member of the class which perhaps suffered the most from the coronavirus pandemic.

“We left in March and never came back,” Volger said.

There was no prom and no graduation ceremony or tossing of caps in the air.

“We had a drive-through graduation in the parking lot,” Volger said. “We missed a lot.”

She’s studying elementary education at Framingham State University.

Ellen Parker, Class of 1972, said she wanted one last look at her old school.

“There were a lot of good times, a lot of good friends, a lot of good memories and a lot of hi-jinks.

She declined to elaborate on the hi-jinks part.

Phil Audette, a veteran, who’s looking forward to his 60th reunion, doesn’t know how many of his classmates will attend.

“Most of my class is out of town,” he said.

Cliff Danue, a 1979 graduate, who’s a foreman in the city’s Recreation Department said he came “out of curiosity” with the hope to run into some classmates.

City Councilor Dianna Holmes, a 1998 graduate, said she came to “take a walk down memory lane,” adding that she’s “super excited” about the new high school.

Holmes was accompanied by her mom Sophie Arenburg who graduated in 1979.

Arenburg said she came “to smoke in the girls’ room.”

It’s assumed she was kidding, but no follow-up was done.

Wendy Sharples Smith, a 1990 graduate, said she came to see old friends.

“I saw some people I haven’t seen for thirty years,” she said. “I loved it here. This will help me get closure.”

A different Wendy Smith said she came because she has a son who’s a junior in the band and another son who’s a freshman track star.

She’s proud of both.

Dan Smith, who is married to one of the Wendys said he came to drink legally in the high school

“It’s not the first time I drank in high school, but the statute of limitations has run out,” he said with a grin.

Police officer Richard Berube graduated in 1985.

He’s been with the Attleboro Police Department for 18 years and said he would have come as a civilian if he had not accepted the detail work.

While he couldn’t mix and mingle (or drink) because he had to keep a close eye out for anyone who could disturb the proceedings, he said it was still a good time.

“It’s still enjoyable,” Berube said. “I ran into some former classmates. It’s a nice evening. Everyone is behaving themselves.”

Maybe the person who had the best time of all was Jane Spellman.

Spellman graduated in 1980 and desperately wanted to buy the chance that would allow her to sink the last basket in the gym which was adorned with numerous championship banners dating back decades.

Well darned if she didn’t buy the winning ticket. She could hardly contain herself.

“Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god…,” Spellman, who lives in South Attleboro, said over and over, hopping up and down and all around.

She played on the girls’ basketball team from 1978 to 1980, so it was a big thrill.

“I wanted it so bad,” she said. “This was awesome.”

Her 60th birthday is this week and she said it was the greatest 60th birthday present she could get.

“I’m still shaking,” she said after finally sinking the final shot after six or seven tries.

Tara and Bill Erwin donated the souvenir ball Spellman got to take home in an enclosed plastic case, which has now become a piece of Attleboro history.

The Erwin’s son Brady will be a sophomore next year and is hoping to play on the varsity basketball team.

As soon as Spellman was done, all balls were confiscated so no one could make any future claims.

During the speeches in Bray Auditorium School Superintendent David Sawyer, who said he’s spend more hours in that school than perhaps anywhere else, summed up the night.

It was essentially an epitaph for the school.

“Good-bye old girl,” he said. “You served us well.”

George W. Rhodes can be reached at 508-236-0432.