Cassville’s former graduating classes monuments complete
August 9, 2017
The Cassville Schools monument project is finally complete after they were forced to remove the commemorative sidewalks for former graduating classes. The new monument with students’ names from graduating classes 1922-1971 was erected along the wall of the Rock Gym which also serves as the District Office.
For over 90 years, graduating classes of the Cassville R-IV School District stamped their names into commemorative sidewalks throughout the campus. Some sidewalks lined next to the J.C. Duncan Rock Gym, others were by the high school building. However, when the Missouri Department of Transportation planned a project to made the sidewalks on Cassville’s Main Street from 5th to 17th Streets ADA-compliant, the sidewalks with graduates’ names were going to have to be removed.
As the sidewalk project progressed, a few community members stepped up to move the existing sidewalks which are now displayed at the Barry County Museum. However, due to the age of the sidewalks, many of the names were not readable and some sidewalk slabs crumbled from age.
The school budgeted for the project, which cost approximately $28,000. Individuals donated to help cover the cost, as well. To preserve history in a more lasting way, the school formed a committee to analyze the sidewalk project and plan a monument with graduates’ names instead of pouring new sidewalks or trying to save existing ones.
One of the sidewalk committee members, Cassville assistant superintendent Jill LeCompte said, “It would have cost us over $100,000 to re-do the sidewalks that were being removed. Since the sidewalks were replaced by MoDOT, it wasn’t as if they were going to let us put the names in them. They would have been somewhere else, and it just wasn’t going to be the same.”
Cassville graduating classes from 1922 to 1971 have their names on the monument. The Classes of 1972 through 2015 still have their sidewalks intact, so they were not included in the project.
For the most part, former graduates were on board with the monument, which is four different pieces along the outside of the J.C. Duncan Gym. There were a few vocal opponents, but the school determined it just wasn’t feasible to replace the sidewalks. LeCompte said, “The sidewalks don’t last. I understand the thought because my dad’s name was on those sidewalks, but they don’t last forever.”
Cassville’s Class of 2016 was the first class that opted to put their names on plaques instead stamping sidewalks. The Class of 2017 did the same, and Cassville’s assistant superintendent Jill LeCompte said they will no longer offer the option of sidewalk stamping.
The plaques will be displayed inside the high school for one year after a class graduates until the plaques are moved to the outside of the building and installed on the outer wall of the high school. Cassville students learning woodworking built the case to hold one plaque inside the building.
LeCompte said continuing the sidewalks was not ideal because the existing sidewalks have already posed some issues over the years. “We’ve had a lot of complaints about not being able to park in front of the building at the high school. Well, we have the sidewalks there. This way, if they ever have to remove the remaining sidewalks, we already have plaques project in place and we’re ready to go.”
However, it wasn’t just the threat of future projects that led to the discontinuation of the sidewalk tradition. LeCompte said, “We have also had a few construction projects that we didn’t do over the years because the sidewalks were in the way. The plaques will help with that.”
To view the monuments featuring Cassville classes 1922 to 1971, they are finished and along the west side of the District office on the corner of Main and 14th Streets.