Making History Since Nineteen-Nordy Four

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Note: This is the first in a two-part series on one of the greatest bags to ever grace the halls of Wachusett – Fred.

This week the Wachusett Alumni Association announced its slate of inductees for the 2008 Wachusett Hall of Fame. Topping that list was Fred, the bag owned by senior class president Mo Cheeks.

As many of you know, Mo Cheeks purchased Fred in the fall of 1991 from the Wachusett book store. “I needed a bag to carry my books in,” Mo Cheeks explained. “Up until that point, I carried my books in my hands and when my hands were full, I used my arms.”

The cost of Fred at the time? $37.23, which in today’s market, adjusting for inflation, would have equaled $58.37. “Whatever the price,” Mo Cheeks said, “it would have been a steal.”

Fred’s legacy is well known to members of the Class of ’94.

He averaged seven books per day at the height of his career, carrying a record 12 on May 28, 1992 during final week. It is a record that stands to this day.

“It’s just so fitting that on the 12th anniversary of that amazing feat that Fred finally gains the recognition he deserves,” Doug Laidlaw said in a phone interview. Laidlaw was one of the lucky few to hold Fred during his time at Wachusett. “I will never forget the moment Mo Cheeks let me carry Fred. I remember it as if it was yesterday. Mo Cheeks had to scratch his head because it was itchy. And he had to put Fred down. Well, as many of you know, Mo Cheeks never put Fred down. He would rather lose his right arm in a wood chipper. So I offered to hold him for a few seconds. It was the greatest moment of my life. I didn’t wash my hands for the rest of the year.”

Pat Tinsley called Fred “the big ticket. He was the real deal. They just don’t make bags like that anymore.”

During his junior and senior years, Fred never missed a day of school. “The most remarkable aspect of that run was the fact that Mo Cheeks never used a locker those two years,” an astonished Amanda Fish said.

In additon to books, Fred held hair gel, a calculator, a ruler, Wachusett track shorts, a contact lens case, knee pads, foot powder, nail clippers, swimming goggles and a mustache trimmer. “He will be the bag by which all other bags will be judged,” economics teacher Mr. Jaquith said.

“A bag like that only comes along once in a lifetime,” valedictorian Diana Carlson said.

But perhaps Fred’s greatest legacy will be a moment few had the chance to witness. Right after Mo Cheeks pulled the trigger and unloaded the dough for Fred, upperclassmen looked at him with envious eyes.

“Fred was the subject of both hostage and death threats,” class historian Adam Porcaro recalled.

Those threats became a reality in February, 1992 in an after-school melee that will never be forgotten. Mo Cheeks was heading to the buses when he was accosted by the bad boy crew of Matt Conley, Brian Bergeron, Steve Dzik, Pat McNamara and Tom Bull. They demanded he turn over Fred. “I had nowhere to go,” Mo Cheeks admitted. “So I ran.”

He led them on a chase that went through the dungeon up the glass staircase to the second floor of the halls of Wachusett High School. Fred never left his side. “Most bags would have given up,” Porcaro said. “But Fred is not most bags.”

Standing in front of the guidance offices above the entrance to the school, Mo Cheeks and Fred nearly met their match. He was surrounded on all sides. He threw Fred down the staircase and then jumped after him. “The whole way down, Fred broke my fall,” Mo Cheeks said. “I nearly hit my head on the staircase several times, but Fred was there to cushion the blow. He saved my life.”

Fred received a Medal of Bravery for his heroics that day. Looking back, Pat McNamara admits that he and his cohorts were out of line. “We never should have been there that day,” he said. “We just wanted a great bag. We thought if we had Fred, our class would be considered the best ever.”

But Fred never let that happen. Thanks to Fred, the Class of ’94 has maintained its standing as the best class ever. “Sometimes you forget just how important he was,” Porcaro said. “But in the final analysis, Fred will always be synonymous with our class and the success we have achieved.”

The second part of this series will ask “what’s next?” in an exclusive interview with Fred who has never spoken publicly before. He will talk about what he’s achieved, what the hall of fame award means to him and where he is going.

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Over the past month, our office has fielded close to 8,000 phone calls from classmates and felllow alumni asking for advice on what to do with their stimulus checks from the IRS.

Some of you may have already received those checks and many more will be receiving those in the mail shortly.

After much deliberation and weeks of research, Class Economist and Vice President Tyler Bradshaw said there is only one choice: DONATE YOUR STIMULUS PAYMENTS TO THE CLASS OF ’94.

“Our nation’s economy is in a downslide,” Bradshaw said. “I don’t want to call it a recession yet, but we are definitely in a boom cycle.”

Bradshaw then pulled out a bunch of graphs with lines pointing in different directions. “I don’t know what the hell these graphs means, but it’s scary,” he said.

Last week, Bradshaw headed to Wall Street to talk with financial leaders and Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, to see how our class might be able to turn the economy around.

Their answer? “As the Class of ’94 goes, so goes the world’s finances,” Bradshaw said.

Case in point, he said, is last month’s cruel April Fools joke in which Mo Cheeks pretended that he was resigning. Bradshaw studied the impact of that joke on the stock market and world politics. Here is what he found:

  1. Gold spiked at its highest price ever of $1,200 an ounce
  2. Oil hit record highs of $130 a barrel
  3. Steel peaked at $1,000 a ton
  4. The dollar hit record lows compared to the euro, which reached $1.75
  5. Gas prices hovered around $4 a gallon
  6. Dr. Pandiscio placed a moratorium on all class reunions until further notice
  7. Pandemonium hit the streets in Holden, downtown Clinton, Northern Sterling and Somalia as rioters demanded the Rubber Room be saved

Economists termed that day one of the grimmest in history. Mo Cheeks’ announcement that his statement was all a hoax, Bradshaw said, served to stabilize the market.

But a lesson had been learned. Bradshaw said this is an indicator of how much our class influences not only the local economy, but state, federal and international markets. “This is what I went to college for,” he said. “My degree in economics might as well have been a degree in Class of ’94-enomics because everything our class does has a trickle down effect.”

That is why Bradshaw headed down to Manhattan last week. “I knew I had to go to Wall Street to bridge the gap between our class, special interest groups, lobbyists, and the financial sector,” he said.

From that meeting, Bradshaw was given one directive: stimulus payments should go to our class, immediately if not sooner.

“This isn’t coming from me,” he said. “This is a directive coming down from our chief executive.”

The benefits will be widespread. “Our economy will rebound and we will have a lot of money to throw a kick [expletive] 15th year reunion with wine and cheese,” he said.

Some other benefits he mentioned are a mariachi band, an inflatable bouncy jump, a dunk tank, a fruit platter, prosthetic hands, balloons and donkey rides. “If that stuff doesn’t help the economy, I don’t know what will,” Bradshaw said.