As school consolidation continues in Vigo County, former students work to keep memories alive

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VIGO Co., Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — School consolidation in Vigo County has a long history through the generations.

Most recently, the Vigo County School Corporation made the decision to close Deming and West Vigo Elementary Schools to consolidate. It will happen at the end of the current school year.

Laura Steele is the mother of two Deming Elementary students. She said it’s been a difficult thing for her daughters Townesly and Addyson.

“It’s still really hard, especially for the younger kids. My girls have only ever known Deming,” she said..

However, this isn’t the first time Vigo County students have gone through this change. In 1959, Indiana passed the Indiana School Reorganization Act. It required smaller school districts to close.

Sandy Billing had to leave Otter Creek High School in the early 60s because of the law.

“To enter Garfield High School with no preparation was very scary for me,” Billing said.

Billing is now part of the Vigo County Educational Heritage Association. The group’s president was a student at Garfield High School during the time of the consolidation.

She said Garfield staff and students did their best to make the new kids feel welcomed. But the transition back then, just like today, wasn’t easy.

“It was easier for us who were already at Garfield to adjust than for those students coming in that first year. It probably took a couple of years,” said Glenda Hilton.

As more Vigo County Schools closed over the years to consolidate, the Vigo County Educational Heritage Association made it their mission to keep the memories alive.

They collect mementos from those schools inside the old McLean High School building.

Anyone with memorabilia from their Vigo County School can donate it to the Vigo County Educational Heritage Association’s museum.

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