Caesar Sant is a four-year-old child prodigy with a gift for playing the violin.
- Posted on Feb 10th 2011 3:00PM by Brian Voerding
The old Cass Technical High School building closed six years ago when its replacement opened next door. Over the years the now-abandoned building housed students including Diana Ross, Jack White and a veritable who's-who list of jazz musicians, including Alice Coltrane, Ron Carter, Kenny Burrell, Paul Chambers, Geri Allen, Ali Jackson, Billy Mitchell and Donald Byrd. Other famous Cass alumni include actors Lily Tomlin, David Allen Grier, Della Reese and Ellen Burstyn.
According to Steve Wasko, a spokesperson for the Detroit school district, the fight to save the school is over -- because it never began in the first place.
"We've heard some spectacular ideas for how to reuse the old structure, but they've come with zero funding," he tells Spinner, calling the recent wave of nostalgia "nothing other than a PR stunt." He adds, "Their energy is misdirected and a little too late. If there was a seriousness in wanting to redevelop that building, that should have occurred much earlier."
In an interview with NPR, White credited Cass Technical High School for his musical growth and said it the academic atmosphere was second to none.
"I played marimba on one of my albums, and I learned how to play marimba in a class at that school," White said, referring to the White Stripes' 2005 album 'Get Behind Me Satan.' "Going to school there at age 14 was like all of sudden you were going to Harvard or something. It seemed like you were going to college."
While several alumni have spoken out against the demolition, it appears the fight to save Cass is currently rooted more in nostalgia than action. Workers are already gutting the building, and opponents don't have the money -- estimated at around $150 million -- to purchase or renovate the property.