MARTINSVILLE, ILL. —
A school flooded by storm waters three years ago dedicated a new building with memories this weekend.
The parking lot of Martinsville, Ill., junior-senior high school was packed Friday evening, and cars parked in the grass. Hundreds of blue and white T-shirts streamed into the gymnasium for the dedication of a new high school building.
The high school building’s 1921 portion was closed after sustaining extensive damage during the floods of June 2008.
The portion of the facility built in 1961 remained in use as construction on the new facility began in August of 2009 after the older section was condemned.
School corporation superintendent Jill Rogers noted the duration of the project in her remarks at the dedication.
“This night has been a long time coming,” she said.
But speaker after speaker said the wait was worth the results, and the project initially estimated at $12.8 million wound up costing much less, $9.5 million, she said, crediting community support and a soft construction market at the time bids were let.
And the home of the “Blue Streaks” took on a tinge of green along the way, as recycled products were used during construction, and a new wind turbine was constructed on-site to produce energy.
The instrument, an E-3120 50kW Wind Turbine, is 120 feet tall with a rotor diameter of 63-feet. Electricity produced by the induction generator can be fed directly into the energy grid and should make between 100,000 and 250,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, depending on winds, according to information provided at the dedication.
Leon Goble spoke on behalf of the 45-member Martinsville Chamber of Commerce, stating the community has always prided itself on innovation, even as far back as the days when schools contained only one room. That tradition of progress despite adversary is one he said will continue.
“Yesterday’s endings will give to tomorrow,” he said.
Commemorative T-shirts were passed out at the door, stating “Out with the old, in with the new...We are still the same Big Blue!”
During the dedication, a slide show displayed on the gymnasium walls showed pictures of the old facility and its students. Shots of the student orchestra in 1934 slid in behind the basketball team of 1946, as well as student groups in the 1990s up through 2009.
According to the event program, the first account of Martinsville possessing an established school was in the late 1830s. That school was located in a one-room building downtown. In 1872, a new South Side School was opened, eventually giving way to a new Martinsville High School in 1921.
Principal Ray Schollenbruch said he was glad to hear the phrase “We are still the same Big Blue,” because the community’s tradition of academic excellence is one the school wants to maintain.
“That one line gives a whole new meaning to the theme and the homecoming dedication,” he said.
Students and alumni read poems at the ceremony, and George Shaffner, Class of 1977, now an executive with Marathon Petroleum Co., credited his small-town background with his own success.
Shaffner said his father graduated from Martinsville in 1947, and both his mother and an aunt taught there. Five of his uncles, two aunts and two cousins are also “Blue Streaks,” the former football player said.
“You could do anything you wanted to do here at Martinsville High School,” he said, contrasting his graduating class of 49 with the 750 students in his son’s class.
The small school environment gave rise to close student-teacher relationships, he added, explaining this gave him a sense of confidence throughout his four years at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.
After the dedication, student council members gave building tours to the community, including one room dedicated to the wind turbine.
Freshman Jonathan Smith and senior Nicole Morgan showed and explained an Internet site that features the turbine’s diagnostics and output.
“It’s pretty cool,” Smith said, recalling how surprised he was when the unit was delivered.
Morgan said she was in gym class as the structure was being raised. “I watched when they opened it up and it was like, whoa,” she said.
The junior-senior high school contains about 200 students. A complete history of the Martinsville School along with pictures is available online at martinsvilleonthemove.com.