In 1939, John Radocha studied geography, flirted with the cute girl who sat next to him in class and took notes from the slate blackboard in Coaldale High School.
On Monday, Radocha, now the borough's mayor, accepted a $100,000 check from U.S. Rep. Tim Holden, D-6th District, to repair the leaky roof of his former alma mater.
The last high school class graduated in 1964; now the 77-year-old building houses Carbon County Head Start, a day care, karate classes, a senior citizen group and recreational programs including basketball games.
"I went to school here," Radocha said. "I don't want to see this building go down."
Borough officials figure it will cost about $170,000 to fix the roof and make other repairs that will allow the square, two-story white brick building at 6th and Phillip streets to continue to be the town's hub.
The grant, through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development program, should get the repairs off to a good start.
"We're knocking on other government agencies' doors for the remaining $70,000," said borough grant coordinator Bernard Szot.
The building is sound, Szot said, but it needs repairs and must be brought up to government standards for accessibility for the handicapped.
The roof is the most immediate need, he said.
"We have a very leaky roof, which must be fixed to avoid any further damage," he said. "We consider this to be an emergency situation.
"This building is used not only by Coaldale residents, but by people from Schuylkill, Carbon and Luzerne counties, too."
On Feb. 29, crumbling plaster caused part of a drop ceiling to collapse, forcing a day-care business to close.
The roof had been leaking, causing the plaster to fall and collect on top of the drop ceiling, which gave way from the weight.
No one was in that part of the building at the time.
A second floor above the Head Start office and classrooms protected them from falling plaster. Head Start serves 68 children ages 3 to 5.
Councilman John Maruschak expects the roof work to be finished by October.
The borough owns the building, but the Coaldale High School Complex Commission runs it and rents space to the day care and Head Start.
Representatives from the commission and council accepted the check Monday.
"It's important to me that this building stay open, for lots of reasons," said Maruschak, Class of 1956, "especially since it holds so many memories for me."