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Restored cupola finds new home near schools

October 01, 2007|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The plaque that describes the cupola of the former East Junior High School calls it "the crown jewel of Waynesboro."

The brick structure that now supports the cupola resembles a crown.

And it was with fanfare that, together, the cupola and its new home were celebrated Sunday.

"May we dedicate it as a bridge to take us from our past to the future," state Sen. Terry Punt said in his remarks.

The cupola topped the building across from Waynesboro Hospital for decades. The building served as Waynesboro High School from 1937 to 1954, Waynesboro Area Senior High School from 1954 to 1962, and East Junior High School from 1962 to 1989.

Summit Health, which owns the hospital and bought the land, demolished the school in 1999. The health system turned the cupola over to a preservation committee that oversaw the reported efforts of 39 volunteers working 1,063 hours in eight years.

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The plaque refers to it as "a labor of love by senior citizens," many of whom were the school's graduates, parents, administrators and teachers.

George Kirk helped with the restoration project and said one of the most difficult parts was moving the cupola this summer from the middle school parking lot that served as its interim home. The cupola now rests in the valley between Waynesboro Area Senior High School and Waynesboro Area Middle School.

"We had it in the parking lot for years and years," Kirk said.

For the dedication ceremony, he situated his lawn chair under a shade tree not far from Bing and Betsy Fleagle.

"We both graduated from East, and we've had ties all our life," Bing Fleagle said. "We couldn't think of a better way to spend our (56th wedding) anniversary."

"We're just so proud of that (dedication). It made tears come to your eyes," Betsy Fleagle said.

"This preserves a portion of our local history, our past," said Punt, conceding after he joked about his years at the rival junior high school.

After the ceremonial key was handed over to the Waynesboro Area School District, Punt encouraged district officials to continue enhancing the area that he said can be a well-used amphitheater.

"Think of not only the programs and ceremonies that can be held here, but the classes for our students in the schools," said Punt, R-Franklin.

"We pray that this amphitheater will be a worthy forum for the performing arts," the Rev. H. Clayton Moyer said when delivering the invocation.

The Wayne Band and Wayneaires gathered on the concrete foundation to perform for the 60 people at the ceremony.

Richard Mathias, committee chairman and former East principal, said the project reminded him of a World War II-era song with the line, "It's been a long, long time."

Mathias' fellow committee members said he often asked whether he would live to see the completion.

"We graduated with the class of 1950 from Waynesboro High School, and (the cupola) is still a special part of our school," said Betty Wolfe, who sat with classmate Barr Newcomer.

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