|Courtyard brought back to life at ILHS|
|Written by Joshua Keeran|
|Thursday, 14 June 2012 17:26|
LEWISTOWN – Back in the 1970s, the courtyard at Indian Lake High School served as an outdoor refuge for students looking for a moment to escape from beyond the classroom and lunchroom walls. Eventually, however, Mother Nature took over the area, and for the past three-plus decades, the courtyard has remained a ghost town of sorts.
Beginning next school year, the courtyard will no longer be an afterthought for students and staff who pass it on a daily basis following the recent renovation of the area.
“The National Honor Society members wanted to do a project that involved renovating the courtyard, so I told them to come up with some ideas and get back with me,” said Barb Keykens, Indian Lake High School guidance secretary and NHS advisor. “When I graduated from here in 1977, we were able to come out to the courtyard and eat lunch, but some time shortly after that, it wasn’t used anymore. It really wasn’t usable space, and no one kept it up.”
On April 6, work began on restoring the courtyard by removing dead landscape, excavating dirt and laying pavers before the final touches were added.
In order to carry out their renovation plans, the NHS enlisted the help of other groups in the school.
“We got a lot of help from the FFA, and the class of 2012 helped as well with funding and labor,” Keykens said. “While the guys were busy hauling everything out, the girls were busy working on the craftier projects like building a unique bench, covering an old bench with mosaic title and putting together a picnic table.”
Several individuals also donated their time to the project including David Snapp, ILHS industrial technology teacher, and Rodney Brandt, an area landscaper.
“Dave Snapp donated all his time to whatever we needed him for, Rodney Brandt gave us a deal on his services and Mr. Concrete gave us a discount on the pavers,” Keykens said. “It was something we couldn’t pass up.”
For Brandt, a 1958 graduate of Washington Local High School (eventually began Indian Lake High School by way of consolidation), it wasn’t his first time working on the courtyard. Brandt actually completed the original courtyard back in 1969, in time for the opening of Indian Lake High School.
“This time around Rodney laid the pavers with the help of two former Indian Lake graduates,” Keykens said. “He had so much vested in this courtyard since he did the original work, and it was amazing to watch him work on something that obviously meant a lot to him. It was really a labor of love.”
During the renovation process, some memorial trees in bad shape had to be removed along with the old fountain that use to grace the courtyard lawn, but Keykens noted the memorial stones honoring Indian Lake High School students killed during the Vietnam War will continue to be on display.
“The memorial had been in the courtyard for quite some time, so we still wanted to recognize and memorialize those students.”
After six-plus weeks of work, the renovation project was wrapped up on May 24, days before the 2012 commencement ceremony.
“It was a lot of work done in a short period of time,” Keykens said. “It wouldn’t have happened without everyone coming together for a project that I think really boosted the kids’ morale and gives them something to look forward to using.”
As for how the courtyard will be utilized this upcoming school year, Keykens said members of the senior class will be granted the majority of access to the area as long as their grades prohibit it.
“Our goal all along was to be able to have seniors with good grades be able to come out here and enjoy this area at lunchtime as kind of an incentive,” she said. “We are starting with the seniors and encouraging them to take ownership in taking care of the area. As we go from there, maybe we can extend the use of the area to other grades.”
Even though the school year ended before students had a chance to enjoy the newly-renovated courtyard, the feedback Keykens has received from those who have seen it has been positive.
“Everybody has been thrilled with it,” she said. “It has perked everyone up, and I’ve seen staff members out there enjoying the area. It’s just a relaxing and calming place.”
|Last Updated on Thursday, 14 June 2012 17:28|