ONWARD — Alumni of the old Onward High School and Tipton Township High Schools are dedicating a monument Saturday marking the location of their old school building.
The building, which was torn down in 2013, is pictured on the stone monument fashioned by Caldwell Monument. The monument was erected April 22 and will be dedicated just before the annual gathering of the Onward-Tipton Township Alumni Association.
It's placed at the corner of Main and Oak streets with the school's original flagpole towering behind it.
Built in the 1920s, the school originally housed classrooms for first through 12th grades. Students there rooted for the Onward Redcoats.
A controversial consolidation brought high school students from Walton over to the school in 1953, when the school was renamed Tipton Township Jr.-Sr. High School.
Bethanne York, in junior high at the time, remembers well how heated some discussions among parents got. A high school was a big part of its town's identity, she explained.
But the tension didn't carry into the school when students from Walton and Onward began attending together, she noted.
"When you put the two schools together, you couldn't tell who was from Walton and who was from Onward," said York, who graduated from Tipton Township Jr.-Sr. High School in 1958. There was "zero conflict."
Everyone rooted for the Tipton Township Tigers — an identity that along with the Redcoats is inscribed in the side of the monument.
The school was renamed again during the massive consolidation that took place in 1963, when Southeastern School Corp. came into existence. Tipton Township Jr.-Sr. High School became Thomas B. Helm Junior High School.
It kept that identity until its students were moved to the new Lewis Cass Jr.-Sr. High School in 1968.
When the old building was torn down in 2013, its flagpole was also taken down and stored nearby until it was placed behind the monument's foundation last fall.