EAST PRAIRIE - The East Prairie High School alumni are sending out an "SOS" - save our school!
Pitching it as a community betterment project, East Prairie alumni are asking the community to get involved, and are accepting donations of both time and money for the restoration of the old A.L. Webb High School building.
"They were going to tear it down this fall," said Oadis Clayton of Sikeston, a 1948 graduate of Webb High School who moved to Sikeston in November. While some planned to get a brick as a memento, some of the older alumni "felt it wasn't right to tear it down," according to Clayton. "I have so memories there."
Additionally, many feel the old school building has historical significance. "Its the only two-story school building still standing in this area," Clayton said. "The Anniston one was torn down, and the Charleston one burned down."
"I didn't want it torn down because I have a special interest in old buildings," said Leo Martin, alumni treasurer and 1955 graduate of the school. He lives in a 100-year-old house and owns an old business building in town. "I like to see those old buildings stand."
The East Prairie School Board donated the building to the alumni who are now trying to get it back into shape.
"Everybody is going to try to help paint, fix, clean," said Clayton. "It won't take a lot of carpentry work, it's just going to take a lot of cleaning."
"It's going to take a lot of paint," said Martin. "We have a work day scheduled for next weekend." The work day is set to begin at 9 a.m. June 7. A sandwich lunch will be provided.
Martin said volunteers from the Class of 1940 have already promised to be there. "They're going to come over and supervise," he smiled.
The alumni will "go as far as we can go" with donations as they come in, Martin said. "It seems to be going pretty good. We're going to renovate it one floor at a time."
After the ground floor, Martin said the upstairs will probably be renovated next, and then the basement which has a half-dozen classrooms along with the furnace room. "That's where I had my bookkeeping class and my typing class," Martin recalled.
The alumni also have plans for the building's cafeteria. "We're hoping to be able to use that for class reunions," said Martin. He said every year there's at least two or three East Prairie High School reunions, noting his class meets every five years. "Its a chance to renew old acquaintances."
Alumni hope to see the building used for other purposes as well.
"We're wanting to put in an art gallery - we have several local artists that are pretty good and we want to put up their paintings," said Martin.
Martin said they are also collecting old class photos, business artifacts and school artifacts to display as well.
Alumni hope to have the first floor open July 4 in time for the Sweetcorn Festival.