Bay View High School to celebrate 100 years

August 1, 2014

By Sheila Julson

In 1929, the Bay View High School Band was small and populated mostly by young men. The drum major wins the contest for best uniform!  1929 ORACLE, BAY VIEW HIGH SCHOOL’S YEARBOOK

In 1929, the Bay View High School Band was small and populated mostly by young men. The drum major wins the contest for best uniform! 1929 ORACLE, BAY VIEW HIGH SCHOOL’S YEARBOOK

For decades, stone gargoyles peered from the cornice of Bay View High School, keeping watch over the thousands and thousands of teens who passed through the school’s doors. They saw the merriment of homecomings celebrated with toilet paper streamers flailing from trees and senior class pranks like Ronald McDonald statues lifted from the neighborhood McDonald’s restaurant, decorated in Redcat attire. They witnessed the thrill of teams returning from victory. They saw frolicking and fights, the passionate kisses of young lovers, hairstyles from bobs to beehives, and they heard the smooth sounds of Swing and doo-wop crooning from transistor radios, and later rap and heavy metal blaring from boom boxes.

Bay View High School, known as The Castle on the Hill, celebrates its centennial this year. Founded in 1914, the first classes were held in barracks with no central heating. Gustav Fritsche was the first principal. Construction of the current four-story building was completed in 1922. In 1975, a modern addition was added to the building’s east façade that included a 1,200-seat spectator gym.

The yearbook and the school’s newspaper, both named Oracle, were developed during the school’s early years. A beloved institution in Bay View,  the school has a rich tradition of academics, athletics, music, and extracurricular clubs.

In 2011 Fritsche Middle School merged with Bay View High School and the name was changed to Bay View Middle and High School.

Now it’s time to celebrate. Classes past and present, as well as members of the community, are invited and encouraged to participate in several events scheduled to celebrate The Castle on the Hill’s 100th birthday.

The 1944 Bay View High School Senior Band.

The 1944 Bay View High School Senior Band.

Bay View Centennial Band

Pauline Koszuta (nee Pritchard), Bay View High School Class of 1972, and Debra Chomicka (formerly Chomicki) Class of 1973, were both active in band, playing clarinet and trombone, respectively. The two remained good friends through the decades and are part of a group of a dozen people involved with Bay View Alumni Association’s planning committee. Their centennial project, an all-class band reunion called Bay View Centennial Band, will perform at the homecoming game Saturday, Oct. 4, at 12:30pm at Pulaski Stadium. The 90-year-old South Stadium, 971 W. Windlake Ave., where the Redcat football team played, was demolished this past spring and is in the process of being rebuilt.

“All Bay View High School band members, past and present, are welcome to participate,” said Koszuta, a traveling music teacher at MPS. Her profession allows her to return to her alma mater twice per week.

Both Koszuta and Chomicka stressed that the alumni events, including the Centennial Band, are not exclusively for past grads who want to reminisce and relive old times. “Current band students are welcome and encouraged to join in,” said Chomicka.  Centennial band rehearsals begin Sept. 1.

Chomicka said that there has also been interest from alumni who participated in color guard, twirling, and cheerleading.

Bay View High School Band in 1954.

Bay View High School Band in 1954.

Koszuta and Chomicka noted that the school has had some troubled years — periods of low academic achievement and fights that made the local news, but they said things are looking up. Multi-grade projects such as a skiff-boat build and launch, and the construction and sale of birdhouses through new academic programs like STEAM and Project Lead the Way, generate student enthusiasm. They also give them opportunities to engage the community and win over newer Bay View residents who have moved to the area within the last decade. “After so many years of people in the community committed to making the school better, things are coming together. The stars have aligned,” Koszuta said.

The 1979 Bay View High School Marching Band.

The 1979 Bay View High School Marching Band.

Koszuta and Chomicka stressed that some MPS high schools have lost their marching bands, but Bay View’s is still going strong. The middle and high school Redcat drumlines kicked off Chill on the Hill’s 2014 season. Koszuta proudly pointed out another achievement — Bay View’s drumline was personally requested to perform at the farewell party for Dr. Gregory Thornton, who recently left his position as MPS superintendent for a job in Baltimore.

Koszuta is selling T-shirts, jewelry, and buttons featuring a vintage image of the Redcat mascot wearing a suit and tipping his top hat. The buttons read, “Hats off to Bay View High 1914 – 2014.” Proceeds will go the Believe in Bay View Foundation fund.

All Class Reunion Dinner

After the game, when the homecoming festivities have wrapped up, the Bay View Alumni Association will host Bay View 100th Anniversary Dinner, an all-class reunion gala Oct. 4 in the Italian Community Center’s Grand Ballroom in the Third Ward. DJ Mike Miles will spin music from the 1940s to the present. School memorabilia will be on display.

Koszuta said there is a call-out to alums to lend artifacts like letter sweaters or copies of Oracle yearbooks or newspapers to be included in a nostalgia display. She said volunteers are needed to help set up the display.

History In Print

Bay View Historical Society member Ron Winkler, BVHS Class of 1968, is teaming up with John Giovi, who graduated from BVHS in 1960, and who later taught at BVHS until 2001. They are penning a commemorative book that celebrates the history of the school. The book will be formatted to resemble an Oracle yearbook and will combine the school’s 100 years with local, national, and world events decade by decade.

Time Capsule

Steve Vande Zande, school support teacher at Bay View Middle and High School, said that staff and students in the Project Lead the Way program will use their construction and research skills to build and fill a time capsule to commemorate the school’s centennial.

“Each month [during the 2014-2015 school year], students will add one current item and something from a past decade,” Vande Zande said. “At the beginning of the school year, students will add a back-to-school-related item from today with a back-to-school object from 1914. For homecoming in October, they will add a contemporary homecoming item with one from the 1920s. The process will continue each month. It will be a student-centered, holistic learning project.”

Specifics such as the size of the capsule, where it will be buried, and when it will be unearthed will be worked out as the project evolves, he said.

Believe In Bay View

A fundraising gala for the Believe in Bay View Foundation is planned for Oct. 11, which includes a scavenger hunt inside the school, a silent auction at the Hide House, and a display of BVHS memorabilia. Those interested can RSVP on the school’s MPS website:

For more information about the Bay View Centennial Band, to volunteer, or to purchase 100th anniversary T-shirts and buttons or to preorder the commemorative book, visit

For more information about the reunion dinner, contact Sonia Hass —

Sheila Julson attended Bay View High School from 1984-1988.


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One Comment on "Bay View High School to celebrate 100 years"

  1. Jerome Heiss on Wed, 16th Dec 2015 1:15 pm 

    I taught at Bay View from 1962-1995, and my wife taught there from 1970-76. We were wondering if there is any way we can purchase a copy of the centennial edition of the Oracle.

    We would appreciate any information you would be able to give us.

    Thank you,
    Jerry Heiss

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