By Joyell Nevins
November 30, 2013
TIPP CITY — Come spring, Tippecanoe High School will have a new “Alumni Intersection,” thanks to the efforts of both Principal Belinda Banks and the Tippecanoe Alumni Association and friends.
At a senior event held last year, Banks took alums down to the academic wing to see the class composites from the ’20s and up which were hanging above the lockers. “You couldn’t see them up there,” Banks said. “I wanted to make them more accessible.”
She also noticed that the composites were not hung in chronological order. Taking an idea from the new Milton-Union and Newton schools and hoping to add some color to the walls, Banks decided to make decade composite boards: 8 feet wide, 5 feet tall and with a digital version of each class’s composite. “I thought what a great way to display those composites - what a great tradition,” Banks said.
She enlisted the help of Expressions Studio and 49 Degrees for the digitizing and compiling. She found funding in the class money left by classes since 2000 (money left as a class gift, and left over from events such as prom or senior picnic). But when she took the original class composites off the walls and put them in a storage meeting room, Banks touched a nerve with the alumni association.
Back in 1974, according to Mike Jackson and an old news article, the composites of classes from 1912 through 1955 were found in the Tipp Central building (old high school) on Dow Street - water damaged and mildewed, hiding in the furnace room. They had been taken down in the 1960s to paint the walls and were never rehung. It was Jackson’s late father, Ed, and Ralph Zimmerman who found the photos and moved them to another building (many ended up in Jackson’s heated attic). Once alumni heard about the state of the composites, the photos started disappearing - alums came and took their class collections for safekeeping.
Then in 1989, Jackson and the newly established Tippecanoe Alumni Association underwent a five-year effort to collect and restore all those composites. They tracked down 43 class photos, compiled one class composite from yearbook photos, and used mostly private money to do it.
“A lot of time and money was spent restoring them,” Gordon Honeyman of the association said.
Once the photos were re-hung in the high school building in 1994, there was what Jackson referred to as a “sacred vow” made to the association that the composites would not be taken down again.
So when Honeyman heard that the composites had been taken down, he and nine other Tippecanoe alums had a meeting with Superintendent Dr. John Kronour. Honeyman, who graduated in 1957, was joined by representatives from the classes of 1949, 1952, 1954, 1960, 1962 and 1963. They and Kronour walked through the halls of the new Tippecanoe High School and decided on a place for the composites to be rehung.
“It’s a shame that (the composites coming down) ever happened,” Honeyman said. “We all were determined until we got an absolutely positive promise of rehanging the pictures.”
Now, the two hallways in the front corridor of the high school will become an “Alumni Intersection.” The decade composites will hang at eye level, and above them will hang the original class composites. Right across from the office, the oldest composite from the class of 1921 and the newest class (currently 2013) will always hang together.
“It’s really important to the alumni to make sure the originals are hung back up, so we want to honor that,” Banks said.
Even though Honeyman notes that the location chosen for the originals means they won’t be able to be seen very well, they will be on the walls.
If they’re hung, they won’t be thrown away,” Honeyman said.
Banks is still collecting class composites to be digitized: she is missing 1956, 1962, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1979, and 1980. After all the classes have been compiled, the next plan is getting a design for the murals by 49 Degrees, and having the boards installed by April.
For more information, contact Tracey from Expressions at (937) 836-3288 or Principal Banks at the high school at (937) 667-8448.