BY GREG SMITH
Fort Madison High School Principal
FORT MADISON – In 1959 when the “new high school” opened my mom moved to this location to finish high school. I remember, years later, her memories of the really cool new building and especially the great open air courtyard area for students and staff to study, converse or relax.
Twenty years after she graduated, I graduated from FMHS and have wonderful memories myself of my time in the courtyard.
Unfortunately, in 2004, due to new construction, the courtyard was lost to a building expansion. Today, in my 11th year as Principal of FMHS, I have had the pleasure of providing tours for many former graduates and their families.
I have yet to direct one of these tours when someone didn’t say what a shame it is that the high school lost its courtyard. Many people still talk about their memories of the Courtyard. It has been a vision of mine for several years to bring back that Courtyard for my students and our community.
In 2016 we began a project to repurpose our library into a 21st century media center. In 2017, we added a Maker Space adjacent to that center. Students, staff and the community have made use of these spaces for a variety of gatherings. Thanks to all of you who supported these projects.
Interestingly enough, building construction over the years has completely enclosed a 6,000 square foot, open air space that is adjacent to the Maker Space. This space is in the center of the high school. Last year, we made the decision to bring back the FMHS courtyard in this space. We cleared the space and our building trades’ students poured concrete to begin the Courtyard project.
Then came COVID and everything stopped.
This summer, we will complete our courtyard project with the support of our students, faculty and our wonderful community partners. But the cost to finish this space is much more than our budget can supply. I am currently writing a grant that will help us reach our goal, but it will only cover a small portion of the cost.
I will be personally reaching out to our community partners to ask for help in restoring this piece of history for our students, staff and the Fort Madison community.
This space will offer a place for classrooms to gather and learn, clubs and organizations to hold meetings and a variety of activities. And it will also be available for community functions throughout the year, at no cost. We have cut costs to a bare minimum, but to finish what we have already started, we will need approximately $15,000.
If you are interested in helping us with this project, please contact Angie at 319-372-1862 during school hours. We hope that you will see the value of this space in creating memories for many years to come! Thank you in advance for you generosity.