The community rallies to rebuild the high school

By Katie Siebenaller

        In the literal calm before the storm, Lake Township School Superintendent Jim Witt was at home with his family on the evening of June 5, 2010.
        Witt and his family would later watch a tornado pass north of their home and later get a phone call — forever changing the lives of an entire community.
        After hearing that a tornado hit Lake’s school campus, Witt hurried to the scene. He could hardly believe what he saw upon his arrival.
        “It reminded me of what you would see on the national news channels of war torn areas,” Witt recalled. Lake High School had been demolished and scattered all over campus. School buses were mangled like dishtowels being wrung out. And the Lake senior Class of 2010’s graduation venue was — simply put — no longer an option for hosting their right of passage.
        It is in times like these, when faced with the unthinkable, that communities come together and show their true strength and resilience. Individuals and organizations step up to the plate with tenacity and the determination to rebuild. And that’s exactly what happened at Lake Schools.
        Days later, though still mourning their losses, the Lake Class of 2010 was honored with their diplomas — all thanks to some local help.
        “Owens Community College, along with so many other organizations, were fantastic community partners for us,” Witt commended. “Not only did they allow us to hold our graduation ceremony on their campus, they also provided a building for us to have high school classes for the following two years as well as their gym for our basketball games.”
        Owens temporarily provided a house of learning and recreation for Lake’s students, teachers and staff while construction began on a new center of learning for the high school in December 2010. Again, the list of those who came together and pulled through for the community’s youth was extensive.
        “We had so much help in the rebuild,” said Witt, who coordinated the reconstruction. “The board of education, the school administration, the faculty, staff and students, local and state government entities, Rudolph-Libbe Construction and too many community members to name. There were many others who provided services, support and resources.
        “It was an incredible team effort,” he said.
         The new Lake High School building was completed in August 2012, just in time for the start of the school year. Given the opportunity, the high school building was made to be more conducive to learning, and more modern, including enhancements such as climate-controlled temperature and better lighting. The new building also allows adequate space for its students and staff.
         Among all its new features is a designated tornado-safe area.
        To this day, Lake’s students and staff take pride and care in their school building, he said.
        “I was and am very pleased with the building. Our staff, kids, and parents were and are very pleased as well. It continues to be a source of community pride. People who come to visit from other communities are very impressed with what we have on our campus.”


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