Teaching Preservation: Rallying Around a School that Matters

Posted on: September 16th, 2009 by Guest Writer 3 Comments

Written by Kim M.

Save Cole!

A sign from the rally to save Cole Elementary.

In my previous blog, I mentioned that there would be a rally sponsored by Preservation Idaho concerning the demolition of Cole Elementary and Franklin Elementary. Caring greatly about the history of these schools, I went last Tuesday and experienced something amazing and extremely energizing.

Sign in hand, I witnessed so many people of all ages – from eight to 75 years of age – on the corner of the school showing their support to keep Cole standing. It is unbelievable how many people really adore this school because of what it has done for them and the memories they have from it. From Timberline High alone we had 26 people, including Mr. StanWiens himself, waving "Save Cole" signs. The emotional energy of the rally was a mixture of both excitement and sadness; many of the people there knew that their efforts would have very little effect in saving the school since the school district has already made its decision. However, many were hoping that this rally would help stop other demolitions like this in the future.

Between picketing and a short meeting to discuss the school’s history and why it is so important, I had a chance to talk with a few people about their reactions to the proposed demolition.

Taylor, a senior at Timberline, said: "[Cole] was one of the first elementary schools in Boise. It has tons of history, tons of people in Boise know about it, they’ve gone to it, they talk about it, and I think it needs to be kept." (Visit BoiseArchitecture.org to see Taylor’s special project on Cole.)

John, an activist in preservation, said: "It’s so unfortunate that this school is being slated for demolition when they really haven’t looked at the alternatives. No one has looked at housing or other uses, and actually, there is no demand to even buy it at the moment, so there is no need to tear it down."

The Boise Architecture Project thinks Cole matters!

The Boise Architecture Project thinks Cole matters!

Dan Everhart, head of Preservation Idaho, said: "[Cole] is the last anchor of Boise history here on Fairview Avenue, and if you look all around us on these corners, what you see is nothing but chain stores and strip malls. Cole is Boise. Cole represents Boise to a lot of people who went to school or taught school there."

Kayla, a junior at Timberline, said: "I think that the worst part of this event is that it’s not just any other building – it’s a school, and the oldest one in our city. Why would you want to rip it down?"

The rally went on for over an hour with participants chanting and cars honking. We also heard a few stories from former Cole students from the 1930’s. They were so sad that this connection to their childhood would be disappearing in one big swing.

During my interviews, DJ, a junior at Timberline, remarked that "in 20 years, they are going to regret tearing Cole down." He is absolutely right. This school represents so much for Boise, and just blowing that all away is a saddening thought.

At the rally, a former Cole Elementary student held a sign that stated: "Last year they taught us Idaho history. This year they are taking it away from us." While financial issues often affect short-term decisions, history matters in the long run.

Kim M. is a student at Boise’s Timberline High School and is participating in the Boise Architecture Project. You can follow the students here on the PreservationNation blog and on their Flickr photostream. Also, get daily updates from their teacher, Doug StanWiens, on Twitter.

Are you an educator interested in teaching preservation in your classroom? Visit PreservationNation.org for resources, tips, and ideas to enhance your curriculum with lessons that will teach your students to recognize and appreciate the rich history that surrounds them.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

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3 Responses

  1. danielle

    September 16, 2009

    well written, kim. very thought-provoking, and i loved that you had a lot of quotes and different sources. nice work

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