BY the time he shut the door to his classroom for the final time in his 40-year teaching career last year, Dave Fribley had observed that a number of the clippings on the wall had yellowed with age. Some of them were downright brown.
Newspaper clippings have a tendency to age after a few years. Some of those on Dave’s wall had been there since the early 1990s.
He was reminded of the wall and its clippings earlier this week when he read the Opinion Page column about the formation of a Columbus East Alumni Association and the group’s plan to establish a Wall of Fame to honor outstanding graduates.
“We already had our own wall,” he said with a smile. “The difference was that our wall recognized kids who were still in school.”
Admittedly, the display in Room A309 wasn’t of the caliber of the stately exhibits at Cooperstown or the Smithsonian, but it achieved a pretty worthwhile purpose for the kids who looked at it over the years.
There wasn’t anything stately about the name either.
“We called it ‘Look Who’s in the News,’” Dave said Wednesday.
The wall started modestly enough, but the most important element in its conception, according to the veteran teacher, was that “it all started with the kids.”
The launching pad was a series of conversations among Dave’s students about noteworthy achievements of their classmates. Some of those achievements were chronicled in newspaper articles in The Republic. “The kids had suggested that there needed to be a way to show off those recognitions for others to see,” he said.
Admittedly the criteria for placement on the wall weren’t very structured. There were sports stories, of course, but academic achievements were posted as well.
If there were any requirements, the chief one would be that the clipping be about an East student. Some of the clippings were posted by the teacher. Many of them, however, were suggested by the students.
In some respects, it became a badge of honor. “I remember one student asked me if he could post a clipping about an accident in which he was involved,” Dave remembered. “I said, ‘Sure.’”
The idea not only started with the students, but they were also the ones who appreciated the end product the most.
“I’d see them standing in front of the wall reading the clippings at all times of day,” Dave said. “I think it really impressed them as to what their predecessors and even their schoolmates had accomplished.”
I imagine it also provided them with a sense of school pride, which is really what halls of fame and walls of fame should be about.
Unfortunately, the “Look Who’s in the News” wall went the way of expediency and change. Sometime over the summer after Dave’s retirement, the clippings were taken down. Maybe they were showing their age. I suspect some of the older ones were hard to read, and the pictures had certainly faded.
Sometime later this year a new wall will be established for those graduates from East who excelled or made worthy contributions in society, and future generations of East students will stop and read about what they did.
That wall will grow in size as more inductees are selected. But for a lot of East students who stopped during the school day to read the present and past clippings in Room A309, their wall will be a tough act to follow.
Harry McCawley is associate editor of The Republic. He can be reached by phone at 379-5620 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.