Yearbooks and letter jackets from days gone by. The coveted spirit stick from 1991. News clippings featuring accolades from local papers and Hudson High's own publication, The Cobra Connection. Charlene Prahasky's old track team shirt from 1988; a 2010 homecoming DVD; scrapbooks and class pictures from back in the 1970s featuring smiling young ladies and a few young men sporting hair swept to the side Justin Bieber style.
Add to that a photograph of No. 3, Eric Geckas, making a getaway down the basketball court in a game against River Ridge High; a pair of socks donated by former athletic director Linda McQuade; a "Striking Cobras" poster created by retired art teacher Clay Verge; and various tributes to those who have passed on — teacher Flo Massaro, administrator Bruce McCart and former student Anthony William Fox, who died in a motorcycle accident in July 2007.
That's just a sampling of the memorabilia pulled out of closets and attics over the summer and donated by members of the Hudson High community and piled high for a time in Pam Paone's living room.
Today it's all part of a collection laid out ever-so-carefully in a large trophy case in the foyer of Hudson High. A nod to the past and the present and a vision, perhaps, of what could be for the newcomers.
That was the thought when principal David La Roche expressed a desire to fill the case with Hudson pride, Paone explained. "He'd been asking about it for two years, so we finally decided to take it on," she said.
Paone is an instructional assistant at the school and a mother of two Hudson High graduates. She coaches the boys wrestling team and girls and boys track. That kind of dedication, no doubt, earned her the title of 2010-11 School Related Person of the Year in Pasco County and a fourth-place finish in the state. So of course she said "yes" to taking on the hefty task of collecting, sorting and displaying all that Hudson stuff, along with school volunteer Denise Watson, who shares duties with Paone coaching track and serving as sponsors for the Class of 2015.
The two sent e-mails to alumni and put out requests on Facebook asking locals to donate some of their cherished collectibles. They raided Hudson classrooms in search of memorabilia, pored through newspaper archives at the St. Petersburg Public Library and combed local thrift shops for display shelves and tables.
"We tried to represent a little bit of the stuff that has happened over the years from JROTC, to band to all the sports," said Watson, noting that some memorabilia dates all the way back to the early 1970s, when Hudson students were on double sessions at Gulf Comprehensive High, which is now Gulf Middle School. "We wanted to represent every person that ever walked the halls here."
Turns out some former students still walk the halls.
"We're really a community school," Paone said, noting that several faculty members were once students at the school. Indeed, former track team member Charlene Prahasky now serves as an assistant administrator, as does former cheerleader Jessica Meek. "It's a very small world here," Paone said.
"This school has a rich history and culture and I think it's nice for everyone to be able to see the evolution of Hudson High," Prahasky said as she perused the case once again. "Every time I look, I see something different. It displays what's available at the school. It shows where we've come from; where we are now. It represents that theme of Cobra pride."