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  • Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette Carroll High School has been renovated since it was first built. The auxiliary gym was added in the first phase in the early 1990s.

  • Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette The original auditorium at Carroll High School seated 300. The new auditorium now seats 900, which is still not enough seats for the growing student body.

Sunday, November 12, 2017 1:00 am

Carroll to celebrate golden era

Complex history creates need to encompass multiple milestones

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Future anniversaries

Carroll High School

2017-18 – Celebrates the last graduating class of Arcola and Huntertown high schools before they joined to create Carroll.

2018-19 – Celebrates Carroll's first graduating class, who attended school in the former Huntertown High School building before the new school opened.

2019-20 – Celebrates Carroll's first graduating class who actually walked the halls of what Carroll is today.

Carroll is collecting alumni contact information through an online form. Click the “50th Anniversary Era” link at www.nacs.k12.in.us for more information.

Homestead High School

2020-21 – Celebrates the opening of Homestead.

2021-22 – Celebrates Homestead's first graduating class.

Homestead alumni can send their contact information to HomesteadOFC@sacs.k12.in.us.

In theory, knowing when to recognize Carroll High School's 50th anniversary should be easy.

Multiple milestones make that debatable, however, said Dan Ginder, the school's athletic director and assistant principal.

Should Carroll's golden anniversary be calculated from the 1968-69 academic year, when it graduated its first class? Or would the following year, when students actually walked the halls of what Carroll is today, be most appropriate?

Northwest Allen County Schools opted not to choose. Instead, it is celebrating the 50th Anniversary Era, which highlights three milestone years beginning with 1967-68. That marked the last graduating classes of Arcola and Huntertown high schools, which joined to create Carroll.

The school welcomes the opportunity for celebration, Ginder said, noting it doesn't celebrate enough.

“Fifty years is pretty special. Fifty years of anything is a long time,” said Jamie Wilkins, a NACS elementary school principal also involved in the anniversary plans.

Southwest Allen County Schools also is taking a multi-year approach with Homestead High School's upcoming 50th anniversary.

Although students began attending Homestead – then a junior-senior high school – in fall 1970, it didn't graduate its first class until the 1971-72 year, Principal Park Ginder said. He and Dan Ginder are brothers.

To prepare for anniversary festivities, student interns have been collecting memorabilia and alumni contact information.

“It's just a logical chance to step back and kind of look where we've been and where we're going,” Park Ginder said.

As plans for the high schools progressed in the 1960s, the public learned Carroll would have a gymnasium to seat more than 2,000 spectators; an auditorium to seat more than 400 people; and rooms equipped with partitions so classrooms could adapt to rapidly changing educational methods. Other features included a planetarium – a first for an Allen County school.

In Southwest Allen, about 70 people petitioned the school board to include an auditorium at Homestead, and the 750-seat room cost $300,000.

Both high schools serve more than 2,200 students, and both buildings have undergone renovations since opening.

SACS is considering more changes at Homestead, which experiences crowding in communal spaces, such as the cafeteria, auditorium, gymnasium and hallways.

Leaders at both schools couldn't quickly calculate how many graduates the schools have produced.

Homestead has collected more than 100 pieces of memorabilia, including National Honor Society items, sports and performing arts programs, prom trinkets and clothing. The goal is to create a “kaleidoscope of Homestead history,” said Kelly Asiala, an alumna and Ball State University freshman who worked on the anniversary project last year.

Lauren McGuire, a Homestead senior, has used yearbooks and help from a longtime teacher to compile a list of former principals – a sometimes difficult task, particularly when interim principals took over, she said.

Delving into the history has given both teens a greater appreciation for the school, they said. McGuire has enjoyed learning about physical changes to the structure and the number of people instrumental in developing Homestead.

The tasks helped Asiala develop an appreciation for her alma mater and boosted her sense of school pride and school spirit.

“There's so much information there that not a lot of people know about,” she said.

Organizers of Carroll's anniversary plans wanted to capture memories and other tidbits from Carroll, Huntertown and Arcola alumni at the homecoming football game in September but didn't get the participation they hoped for, Dan Ginder said.

An Arcola and Huntertown high school alumni dinner is set for Feb. 23 at Carroll High School before the season's last home basketball game. It will be catered by the culinary students.

Nancy Parker, a 1963 Huntertown graduate, said she has fond memories of the school and kept a brick from the building after it was demolished.

“I would have gone back tomorrow,” she said, recalling her response when someone asked whether she would like to repeat her high school years.

Her grandchildren have given her reasons to visit Carroll.

“I just can't believe how big the place is,” she said.

Anniversary organizers expect tours of Carroll will be offered, not just for alumni's benefit but also for the community's.

From giving school tours for class reunions, Dan Ginder knows how easily memories and stories can flow when alumni return.

One group wanted an hour, he said. Four hours later, he said, the alumni were barely halfway through the school because they would pause every few feet for a story.

asloboda@jg.net