Third-generation Highlanders join family tradition
June 7, 2023
A fair number of Baldwin teachers first were Baldwin students who decided to come back to work here. That bond the community shares with the school also is shown by the number of families who have stayed in the district for two or more generations, with children and even grandchildren all graduating from Baldwin High School.
Though the school has changed throughout the years, these families often share some of the same school traditions and activities through the generations. Here are the stories of three members of the Class of 2023 who represent the third generation of their families to graduate from Baldwin.
Sports a family tradition for Schumachers
Participating in Baldwin sports has been a constant thread for the Schumacher family through the years.
Senior Grace Schumacher will graduate with the rest of the Class of 2023 on Wednesday. Her mom and dad, Trisha and Mike Schumacher, and Mike’s parents, Diana and Paul Schumacher, are also Baldwin grads.
“All of my family went here, so it’s kind of cool,” Grace Schumacher said.
Grace played softball throughout her time at Baldwin, which has made her part of a family tradition.
Her sisters, junior Anna Schumacher and freshman Maddy Schumacher, also play softball for the Highlanders. Her mom played softball as well as basketball, and her dad and grandfather both played baseball.
“Our family members have always been great athletes and also great at keeping up with our academics for generations,” Grace Schumacher said.
Diana Schumacher graduated in 1971, 52 years before Grace. There have been a lot of changes over the years, starting with the fact that the high school covered only grades 10 to 12 when she attended, Diana Schumacher said.
“I cannot even compare it,” Diana Schumacher said. “Everything is different.”
Grace’s mom, Trisha Schumacher, also has noticed changes in the lives of teens over the years – some of them affecting all teens, not just those at Baldwin.
Teens today are much more open about their mental health and find more acceptance, she said. But the pandemic had a negative effect on so many of them, and there is a need for society to provide more resources.
Another difference, Trisha Schumacher said, involves technology. She said teens used to have more personal contact with each other before the arrival of cell phones.
“Technology is great, but kids have gone backward socially,” she said.
Yet some things about school have been constants, and family favorites as well.
“Prom was really fun because our class was so tight-knit,” Trisha Schumacher said.
The real dancer in the family, though, was Grace’s grandma.
“We went to dances all the time – at school, churches, whatever organization was having one,” Diana Schumacher said.
Prianos have enjoyed similar school activities for generations
Not only have three generations of the Priano family gone to Baldwin but they have been involved in similar activities throughout their time at the school.
The Priano family has been a part of the Baldwin-Whitehall School District since the 1970s. Al Priano and Cheryl Priano met in high school during their 10th-grade year, and that’s where their family legacy began.
“On my Friday nights, I went to the football games and …. I even met my eventual wife at one of those games, which is why you can even do this story on us,” Al Priano said.
Their son, Tim Priano, went to Baldwin from 1994 to 1997. During his time at Baldwin, he enjoyed some of the same activities his parents had – and which his own children, seniors Joey and Bekah Priano, have been involved with throughout their high school careers.
Al Priano said he had great experiences in Highlander Choir, Baldwinaires, and a Men’s Glee Club that was formerly at Baldwin. Now, his grandchildren share his passion for music. Joey is a part of the school’s Honors Highlander choir and Baldwinaires, and Bekah is in the band.
“Some of my best memories are in the musical department,” Joey Priano said, citing the Disney trip and concert performances as his favorite memories in the music department.
Along with their musical efforts, the Priano family has also been heavily involved in Baldwin track.
In addition to playing the piano, Tim Priano ran throughout high school and qualified for invitationals and WPIAL finals. He had a passion for being on the track team and made some of his favorite memories through it.
“I remember my time on the track team more than anything,” he said.
His children share this passion: Bekah just finished her fourth year in track, and Joey joined the team this year as well.
“I met some of my best friends on the track team. I was captain of the team this year and I was happy to be able to have Joey with me,” Bekah Priano said
Bekah and Joey’s grandparents are excited to see their grandchildren graduate from the school they cherish. And they plan to continue supporting Baldwin.
“I love seeing the sea of purple and white … which I used to see when I went to Baldwin,” Al Priano said. “I love seeing how things continue to improve in the school and the community.”
`It feels like home’ for Abby Hutchinson’s family
Although there have been many changes in Baldwin High School, three generations of Baldwin alumni prove that the simplicity of the teenage years is universal.
In high school, Barbara Michalowicz and her group of 12 girlfriends would sit together at lunch, watch dance shows together, and hangout at Sully’s in Brentwood every Tuesday and Saturday.
She graduated in 1961, and has seen many changes at Baldwin over the years.
“The school really has expanded. They offer many more things you can do now – and there’s a pool,” Michalowicz said.
Her daughter, Baldwin secretary Tara Hutchinson, recalls crowding around her locker to do her girlfriends’ hair back in the ’80s.
“I don’t even know what we did. We just walked around and talked to each other,” Tara Hutchinson said.
Senior Abigail Hutchinson continues the family’s legacy at Baldwin.
Although she is attending Baldwin more than six decades after her grandmother – and though Morgan Wallen and Taylor Swift are more her speed than the Motown jams of the ’60s – some of Hutchinson’s favorite activities also are school dances and hanging out with her friends.
“I love school dances. I’m so sad that prom is my last one. I love being with everyone and letting loose for a couple hours,” Abby said.
In the ’60s, there weren’t as many activities at Baldwin, so her daughter and granddaughter have been able to be much more involved at school, Michalowicz said.
Tara Hutchinson took part in The Heatherettes, an extension of Baldwin’s marching band that focused primarily on dance. As for Abby Hutchinson, athletics have played a crucial role in her high school experience, especially basketball, lacrosse, and track.
After her graduation, Michalowicz worked in an office for Westinghouse until she started her family six years later. At the time, the majority of girls went into either office jobs or cosmetology, Michalowicz said.
Tara Hutchinson went to Fordham University in New York for journalism, traveled with a theatrical merch company as a merchandising manager, and was a TV reporter for five different news stations throughout the country.
Now, Tara Hutchinson works full-time as a Baldwin secretary.
“I never would have thought I’d be working here,” she said. “I think about my mom walking around this building and being a teenager … and now to see Abby here in 2023 as a graduating senior, it’s strange.”
Abby Hutchinson will attend West Virginia University for nursing, and hopes to one day move south to Tennessee or one of the Carolinas.
Michalowicz still attends school events and has enjoyed seeing her children and grandchildren growing up in the same high school as her.
“Walking down to the field, it feels like home,” Michalowicz said. “There are acquaintances, and friends, and good friends, and there is that lunch table. We’re 80 years old and still talking. We were in the right place at the right time.”