On last Sat., May 3, people from both Gilmer and Lewis counties gathered together for the first of many future events at the new Leading Creek Elementary School. The beautiful weather, combined with the marching bands from the two county high schools and the dramatic element added by the secretive Masonic Lodge ceremony, gave the day a festive feel.
Before the ceremony began, the crowd was entertained by the Gilmer and Lewis counties high school bands, which were under a combined direction of Steve Austin and R.J. Cook.
Students and parents, members of the communities and education systems, along with members of the Weston Lodge, No. 10, and the Gilmer County Lodge, No. 118, added a needed legitimacy and historical aspect to the future school. The crowd watched as the lodge members performed a ceremony that must have been very similar to the ones their predecessors had performed years before at institutions, like the Glenville State Normal School (now GSC).
The ceremony was started off with a processional conducted by Grand Lodge Officer, Grand Marshal Worthy Carl McDaniels, followed by welcoming remarks from Lewis County Superintendent, Dr. Joseph Mace, and Gilmer County Superintendent, Mr. Ronald Blankenship, who then made a formal request for the Grand Master, M.W. Owen G. Bragg, to lay the cornerstone.
More than a structural feature, the cornerstone symbolizes the educational foundation the new elementary school will bring to the students on the outskirts of these two counties, and the unity of these counties coming together into one school. Inside the cornerstone itself are small mementos that capture this moment in time and place, such as local business cards, and class rosters from the Troy and Alum Bridge elementary schools. Unlike a time capsule, to be opened at a later date, the contents of the cornerstone will remain sealed until the demolition of the school many decades in the future.
After the cornerstone was set into place, there was a brief oration by M.W. Stephen G. Swank, Past Grand Master and Grand Lecturer. The ceremony, then, ended with a benediction by Grand Chaplain, Wor. Orville G. Wright, followed by more music by the high school bands.
In a place where history and tradition are honored, it has proved a very difficult thing for residents to leave the beloved old elementary schools. But history at Leading Creek Elementary School has already begun, and all those present on Saturday were a part of it.