Central celebrates 125th anniversary with schoolwide celebration
Last May, Central High School principal Dr. Lisa Anderson stood at a podium at commencement, like she does each spring. But as she welcomed the 124th graduating class at Central, it dawned on her.
“I think we all realized that it was the 125th anniversary this year, which is the quasquicentennial,” she said. “So we began working to get the teacher perspective and the student perspective of how we could go about celebrating this milestone.”
Dr. Anderson worked with Central assistant principal JoAnn Hite, who coordinated with the school’s heritage committee. Together, they decided to host a schoolwide birthday party for Central on the original 125th day of school.
“Our goal for Feb. 28 is really more of a focus on the students to make that personal connection to the history of Central,” said Meredith Wisniewski, resource teacher for the Springfield Scholars Program, located in Central. “We’ll have a lot of artifacts from our heritage room in our library, and students will be able to see those historic items in a Timeline Walk.”
Students were able to view historic newspaper articles, yearbooks and school memorabilia, like a historic Central Kilties uniform. And in their classes, students had lessons infused with Central’s history. Art students examined the work of Central alumnus Gary Bedell, and Sara Lampe, the founder of gifted education in Springfield, presented the history of the Scholars Program.
But in addition to getting a closer look at Central’s history, the schoolwide celebration also honored the school’s rich present. The school’s annual diversity assembly was held on the same day as its birthday celebration. And two weeks before, Jennifer Melton’s Fashion Construction class spent a day designing T-shirts to submit to the school’s commemorative T-shirt Design Contest.
“The students came up with a design idea that would represent Central and create a memorable T-shirt of the anniversary that was taking place,” said Melton. “We talked about how Central has changed, and they loved designing the T-shirts. We’re in the older part of the building, so they could look outside the window and see the new building while designing their T-shirt.”
On Feb. 28, commemorative Chromebook stickers distributed to every student. But for this milestone, the celebrations are beginning. The Central High School Heritage Walk is planned for Saturday, April 7, which will feature a 1.25-mile walk around and nearby Central’s historic campus.
“For me, I think celebrating the lineage that we have in this community for educating children is so important,” said Hite. “But that tradition continues, and the importance of growing our community through learning is why we continue to celebrate the importance of our past and how that impacts our present and future.”