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BSU students create model for display of old Bemidji High School façade

From left, Bemidji State University Industrial Model making instructor, Lyle Meulebroeck, and student model builders Ernest Ang and Jared Roiger look over a display model of the old Bemidji High School memorial. A committee of BHS alumni has preserved the ornate school entryway with the intention of setting it up in a park or other public place. Pioneer Photo/Molly Miron

Last June, a group of Bemidji High School alumni salvaged some of the glazed terracotta decorations that made the old school's entry distinctive.

Their hope is to raise funds to construct a memorial to the now-demolished building and set it up in a park or at the new high school.

"This would tie the memories of the old high school with the new school," said Linda Lemmer, a member of the Old Bemidji High School Remembered Committee. "We would love to have community members to give us additional ideas for rebuilding locations."

Now, two Bemidji State University prototype engineering technology students, Jared Roiger and Ernest Ang, have built of model to give the public an idea of how the memorial might look. The model will be on display for the first time from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 30, during the Beltrami County Historical Society Antique Fair and Flea Market at the new Bemidji High School, 2900 Division St. Subsequent viewings are anticipated at Sanford Bemidji Health and graduation celebrations.

Sharon Fruetel, another committee member, said the group hopes to have a site identified this summer for the memorial. Meanwhile, the sections of one of the old high school entries are stored in a shed near Lemmer's home.

Fruetel said the reconstruction was first envisioned as an open arch on a landscaped plaza by David Larson, architect with EAPC Architects Engineers, and currently Bemidji's mayor.

Lemmer said the group met in September with Lyle Meulebroeck, instructor of industrial model making for BSU and Northwest Technical College, to see if any students would be interested in modeling the memorial. Ang and Roiger accepted the project for their spring semester project.

Fruetel said the students built the model with no financial input from the committee for labor or materials. In exchange, she said, the students gained the educational experience to produce a prototype for a client.

Ang and Roiger said they worked from photos of the old school, as well as the blueprints, which are part of the Historical Society archives.

"We have talked with Park and Recs Department about the possibility of incorporating the arch at the new waterfront park so that it will be where all alumni and visitors to Bemidji could easily visit," Lemmer said.

Financing the rebuilding could come from a single donor or from donations by BHS grads. For more information or to contribute support or ideas, call Lemmer at 751-3275 or Sharon Fruetel at 751-3146.