BOXHOLM – In 1916, seven men from the Boxholm area laid the cornerstone for what would become Grant Township’s United Independent School District. Now, 106 years after the construction of the two-and-a-half-year-old boys’ school building, it is preparing for demolition.
The school building, which served as a learning area for thousands of children in the south of Webster County and the north of Bonn County, was closed almost 10 years ago when a co-operation agreement was reached between the school districts in the south-east of Webster-Grand and Pairie Valley. Middle school students were transferred to Burnside and high school students to Gwyri, leaving the old building empty. The building has been without heat or electricity since closing.
At a school council meeting on March 8, the school committee in the Southeast Valley voted to begin the process of demolishing the vacant site.
“Unfortunately, reorganization and closure of school buildings are a harsh reality in Iowa’s public education,” he said. Said Southeast Valley Inspector Brian Johnson. “I became the superintendent after the Boxholm building was already closed. I try to make the most of an unfortunate situation. My recommendation to the school administration is to do the best possible with the municipality, all while reducing the legal responsibility of the county.”
Akin Muench, one of the people who laid the cornerstone of the school in 1916, was the great-grandfather of Lori Ferrari, who now serves as a consumer science teacher in the Middle East Middle School in Burnside. Four generations of the Moanche family walked the corridors of the Boxholm building including Akin’s son, Uri Muntz the Elder; His son, Uri Moanch Jr.; Ferrari and her brother; And even Ferrari’s four children – Torrey, Josie, Janey and Riley.
Uri Monz Sr. not only attended high school in Boxholm, but also drove a horse-drawn school “bus” Transfer the village children to the school of the new city.
“My kids all loved going to school there,” Said Ferrari. “They’re still talking about it being their favorite building to attend. I’m not exactly sure why it was their favorite, but they would say they only got the whole building for fourth to sixth grade. I think they felt they should control the school. They had two gyms, their own lunch room, and plenty of room to claim they were theirs. “
The brick building includes two gyms known as “Little” and “big” gyms. The small gym, Ferrari said, reminded her of a ballet swimming pool with its four high concrete walls with high seating above.
“I could only imagine what a basketball game could be like at university, peeking at the court from above,” Said Ferrari, who graduated in 1985. “This gym was used for a break and basketball practice when I was a student there. We literally jumped off the walls and pushed the cement while running killers. It was loud and resounding like a mall.”
The large gym was used for university and youth sports and also included the stage for theater productions and graduations.
That stage in the big gym was also taken advantage of by band teacher David Swaroff, who taught at the Oxholm School for 14 years. Swaroff taught on the stage of the gym, as well as in an adjoining room that was formerly used as the home environment room.
“I had very supportive parents, staff and students,” Said Swaroff. “One of my favorite memories of the Boxholm School was when a sixth-grade band agreed to rehearse a march outside in January because it was so nice outside so we could say, ‘We marched in January’!”
The large gym was also used for activities in physical education classes and the annual prom.
“My favorite part as a kid was when we came to skate all the time in a fitness class,” Said Halley McGuire, a 2012 graduate who also worked at Boxholm as an educator.
“Prom has always been a big deal,” Ferrari added. “Every year the young class would turn the whole space into a magical land. I still remember touring the gym as an elementary student in utter awe of the change. One prom, the theme ‘Stairs to Heaven.’ “.
The lunch room was also a popular meeting place for students despite its small size.
“One thing that was really cool as a kid was that we got options of strawberry, chocolate or white milk,” Added McGuire. “You can pay 50 cents, I think, even for soft ice cream.”
“Lunch was always homemade and delicious, something we took for granted,” Said Ferrari.
Dennis and Randy Nissan, Mediton, met when they were in ninth and tenth grades at the Oxholm School and graduated in 1978 and 1979. They have been married for 43 years.
“Ma’am. Grillo was our favorite teacher,” Said Dennis Nissan. “She taught English and speech. We have a lot of good memories at school. We drive near the school and talk about all the fun we had and all the stupid things we did, and the friends we haven’t seen in years.”
Throughout its 106 years, the building has housed thousands of students in a variety of grades from preschool to transition kindergartens to twelfth grade.
“When I was in middle school in Boxholm, two of us had to go out and wave the American flag every morning,” Said Britney McLendon, a 2014 graduate. “They would pick two people to do the morning posts every day, and it was always fun.”
At the School Board meeting on March 8, the Southeast Valley School Board approved exhibits to be presented to the School Budget Review Committee (SBRC) that would allow the county to use non-disposable cash for school demolition purposes. Unused school building.
According to Johnson, when the reorganization vote took place on March 1, the architecture firm that had been working with the county for several months had received approval to distribute plans to general contractors for demolition. These proposals are due on April 6 and are expected to be approved by the board at the regular board meeting in April, pending the SBRC’s decision, which is May 3. If the SBRC gives districts authority to use unspent cash, the demolition will proceed shortly thereafter with a fall target of fall 2022. At this point, Johnson said the county has no plans for the land after the building is demolished and the lot relocated.
“There was something majestic about the two-and-a-half-story rectangular school,” Said Ferrari. “The exterior of brick and mortar with glass block walls high in the ceiling above the windows. Inside the ceilings are high and the corridors and stairs are beautiful terrazzo.”