Perry Township residents preserve history with monument

Photo by Shea Singley The newly placed Perry Township monument that once stood atop the old Perry Elementary School.
Photo by Shea Singley John Ide shares some history of Perry Township and the old Perry Elementary School during the dedication ceremony.

Perry residents gathered at the Perry Township building on Aug. 7 for the dedication ceremony of the newly placed monument that once stood atop one of the entrances at the old Perry Elementary School.

“The reason we are here tonight is to dedicate this monument by reclaiming the entrance to the old Perry school. We are able to preserve a part of history,” said Dean A. Adam, Perry Township Supervisors Chairman. “We felt it was important for the history of our township so we utilized these pieces of concrete into something that can be enjoyed by the community. A special thanks to John Ide for bringing this to our attention.”

Ide originally came up with the idea as a way to save the block that reads “Perry Township.” Much of the old school has been reused, recycled and incorporated into the new Perry Elementary Center, but the now monument was eventually not included in those plans. Ide, who did not want to see the memorable piece be lost, brought up the idea to Steven Keifer, Hamburg Area School District superintendent, who took it to the school board and then the supervisors were asked. According to many of the speakers, this was all done in a few days.

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“I just want to share with everybody how proud I am to be a part of this community that once again you see people coming together to volunteer from the boy scouts to local residents to help put this together,” said Shawn Gravish, Perry Elementary Center principal,“to help keep a memory from the past and to keep it as a part of our future so that we can talk about it for years to come.”

Volunteers worked to carefully transport the monument to the township building and then Boy Scout Troop 163 worked on the planting and mulch work, Richard Kemmerer worked on the brick work and Epting Universal did the lighting.

“This is a beautiful setting for it,” said Keifer. “Something to remind us for many, many years of the old school.”

Speakers at the ceremony included Adam, Senator David Argall, Representative Jerry Knowles, Keifer, Gravish, Ide and Mark Stitzel, event committee.

“It was a great opportunity that we got to put this up here in Perry Township,” said Stitzel. “I’ll always remember where this came from and how it got here.”

Ide along with many other attendees remember how rare it was for the doors below the original place of the monument to be used. He shared some history of Perry Township and of the old school which was built in the spring and summer of 1931.

“I think it cost around $80,000 to build it,” he said, of which a loan was taken out for $70,000. “$70,000 probably wouldn’t even do one classroom in the new building, so you can see how far we’ve come.”

While a piece of the old school and history has its place at the township building, the new Perry Elementary Center is set to open on Sept. 2 as the elementary students in Hamburg begin their school year (a week later than the middle school and high school due to delays in construction). Though there is not a date set yet for the grand opening celebration for the public, Keifer and Gravish let the residents know that the whole community will be invited. Keifer pointed out that those doors so many remember not being able to use as well as other doors from the old building have been recycled as part of display cases at the entrance to the new school.

Light refreshments were available after the ceremony in the meeting room provided by Clover Farms, Redner’s Warehouse Markets, Weis Markets and Walmart.

About the Author

Shea Singley

Shea Singley is the editor of The Hamburg Area Item. She grew up in Berks County and spent three years at the University of Arizona, Tucson, where she double majored in Creative Writing and English before transferring to Kutztown University where she majored in Professional Writing. Shea graduated from Kutztown University in 2012 and during that time completed an internship in the publication department of a non-profit organization in Washington, DC. She joined Berks-Mont Newspapers in March of 2013 and had enjoyed getting the chance to explore the Hamburg area and meet the readers. Reach the author at ssingley@berksmontnews.com or follow Shea on Twitter: @hamburgitem.