Our View: Pride in Handley

Posted: May 3, 2013

Apple Blossom is not the only event we heartily anticipate once April, the so-called “cruelest” month, yields to May, by reputation the “merriest.”

Located as we are, at the corner of Kent and Boscawen, we also look forward to the annual pilgrimage — well, march — of Winchester public-school students to the grave of city benefactor John Handley. We have a front-row seat to the solemn parade of youngsters, most clad in Sunday finery and many carrying flowers. It’s a beautiful, heartwarming event deeply embedded in the tradition of a city truly blessed.

As pleasing as these visuals may be, they pale, in significance, to the march’s instructional value — not just to the students who participate, but to us fortunate enough to witness it every year. Did we mention that Winchester is a city blessed?

Yes, we did — and one of the reasons is the beneficence of Judge Handley. His bequest is a proverbial gift “that keeps on giving” — and not just monetarily, in ways that educationally benefit the “poor” children of Winchester, but also in visual delights. Does any city Winchester’s size boast edifices as architecturally striking as Handley High School and Handley Library?

Thus, it is with much dismay that we note the cancellation, for the first time in many a year, of the yearly march to Mt. Hebron Cemetery. We understand fully that bad weather prevented the event being held, both on its regularly scheduled date (Monday) and the rain date (Tuesday). We understand, too, Superintendent Rick Leonard’s decision not to reschedule. The last month of any school year is a hectic time, what with end-of-year testing and myriad events regularly held during the last weeks of class.

Such understanding, though, is leavened with cautionary words of advice. We, as a community, must never lose sight of our heritage, or of the Handley legacy — nor should we want to. That commodity forever referred to as “Handley Pride” is, after all, heavily tied to remembrance, commemoration, and recognition of simple gifts.

And, because it is, we fully expect to bear witness to that march to the grave this time next year. And for many years to come.