Ground broken for Geneva School memorial
Geneva High School 1936 graduate Kathryn Strickler sat on the grounds where she had received her education on Saturday morning when community leaders gathered to break ground for a memorial to the former Geneva School.
In her lifetime, Strickler witnessed the demolition of two school buildings, including the one from which she graduated and the one that was most recently demolished.
"It's progress," said Strickler. "I hated to see the school go down but it's progress. I graduated from the old school and they tore it down. I saw both schools come to an end."
Strickler said that she attended school as Kathryn Cole and lived in a house across the street from the old school building where a car dealership now stands.
"I loved it," said Strickler of her Geneva school days. "We got disciplined but we had wonderful teachers. I was part of the National Youth Association back then. I worked in Mr. Hunt's (former principal) office for awhile."
Geneva residents and school alumni are currently in the process of raising funds for a memorial on the site of the school. Alan Baumgartner, who is heading up the project, said that the memorial would stand near the south entrance to the former school building. Construction of the cement pad and erection of the facade will begin in the immediate future.
In addition, those interested in supporting the project are invited to purchase bricks for a walkway at the site. Deadline for information and payment is August 31 of this summer. Construction of the brick walkway will begin as soon as engraved bricks are received in the fall. Donations are also being accepted toward memorial trees which will decorate the landscaping at the project.
"This building gave us a social center for so many people for such a long time," observed Baumgartner. "This will enable us to keep Geneva High School in our hearts. This is what the memorial is all about. There are so many memories for so many people that were made at this school.
"Visitors can come to this memorial and look at the member donors in the walkway," continued Baumgartner. "They can look down at the bricks and see classmates, administrators, friends and teachers. None of this would be possible without the generous contributions of alumni and friends who gave to purchase this land."
Baumgartner praised the Limberlost Conservation Association that was founded in 1947 for its involvement in contributing financially to the historical and memorial heritage of the Geneva community and surrounding area.
"For 65 years this organization has worked to preserve the heritage of this community," said Baumgartner. "It started with the Limberlost Cabin and then the Visitor's Center. Now they have stepped up once again here."
Baumgartner praised construction manager Mike Schwartz for purchasing and donating lights from the original site and Stan Mosser, for his stellar representation of Geneva Proud and its contribution to community heritage.
"I am honored by all the involvement, passion and support which made this possible," Baumgartner said. "This will be such an inspiration to all of us."
Sara Briggs, longtime school teacher and wife of former banker the late Jim (Jimmy) Briggs said that her husband would be absolutely delighted with the events surrounding the memorial.
"He would be so proud. I'm so glad that all four boys started school here," commented Briggs.
"I have so memories of school here," said Briggs' son, Andrew, a Geneva alumni who currently is president of Bank of Geneva. "I remember the ballgames and all of the teachers. This is one of those projects where people of the community have pulled together and it is coming out great."
Baumgartner said that it appears that the monument will stand almost exactly on the spot of the front doors.
"We examined the foundation and it appears that the monument will stand exactly where it had been located over the doors for so many years," said Baumgartner.
For additional information concerning donating toward the project, contact Alan Baumgartner at 260-433-2281 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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