Mansfield class photos back in the school

More than 100 years of pictorial history is back on display at Blue Ridge Intermediate and Junior High School, a building that formerly housed Mansfield High School.

After a 20-plus year absence, picture compilations of each graduating class that date back to 1914 are back on the inside walls of the structure, now which is now part of the Blue Ridge school district.

A large and active Mansfield Alumni Association raised $3,000 to reframe the photos, which run through 1971, the last year the town had its own school district. In 1972 it consolidated with neighboring Farmer City, and in 1985 Bellflower was voted in as the Blue Ridge school district got its start.

But Mansfield alumni have worked hard to keep the Mansfield Cardinal alive, as seen by all-school banquets that still draw over 100 guests despite 45 years passing since the initial consolidation.

Back to the class pictures, which more recently were part of the Blue Ridge Township Library displays. Alumni would haul photos in their display stands each year to the annual banquet at the school.

“The older we got, the more painful it was,” quipped Donna (Wolf) Roberts, a 1971 Mansfield High School graduate who was the last Mansfield High grad to cross the stage and receive her diploma.

“The frame wasn’t really designed to be moved like that, so it was getting hard on the frame,” added Lois (Rosenbery) Adams of the Class of 1960.

So when library officials asked them to find a new location for the photos, alumni felt they belonged in the school, originally constructed in 1939.

Dollars were raised, alumni gave their blessing at the 2016 banquet, and earlier this year the newly framed photos were put up in the school, which is now home to Blue Ridge seventh and eighth graders.

Adams said they were a hit at the alumni banquet last month, as attendees could stroll at their own pace to view the pictures – instead of taking turns at the not-so-portable frames that had been transported to the event the past two decades.

“They (alumni) thought it was unbelievable, and I think it was easier for them to look at. Before they had to flip through and now people could just go find their own picture,” added Adams, who enjoys finding family members as she strolls the main hallway at the school.

Some letters to the editor in the Piatt County Journal-Republican had urged alumni to keep the historic photos at the library, but Roberts said that was not possible due to a lack of space.

“The major concern by everybody was that the pictures would be protected and saved, and ideally if they could be kept at the library that would be perfect, but they don’t have room for them anymore,” said Roberts.

An added benefit she did not see coming was that teachers are using the photos as part of classroom curriculum to show current youth the school and town’s past, from hair styles to changes in clothing throughout the past century.

“We are living history, that’s the great thing about it. Kids are recognizing their grandparents, they’re looking at aunts and uncles. We forgot about that aspect,” said Roberts.

She and Adams also thanked the Blue Ridge school board and Blue Ridge Intermediate and Junior High School Principal Katie Nichols for their cooperation in getting the photos back into the hallways.


 


 

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