On Monday, April 26, 2021, the City of Ravenna and the Ravenna Township Trustees presented the Ravenna School Board a check for $23,800.00 to fund Ravenna History Programs developed by Ravenna Teachers in Grades 3-12. The money was made possible through the Jack W. Schafer Trust to be used by the City and Township for community history projects. “The City of Ravenna and Ravenna Township are one community. Nowhere is that more evident than in our school system,” stated Mayor Seman. “Building community pride through our rich history is important for the community’s students. This generous gift from the Jack W. Schafer Trust will hopefully assist in educating students that Ravenna has a lot to be proud of,” added Vince Coia.
Jack Schafer was a graduate of the Ravenna School System who practiced historic preservation in San Francisco. Upon Mr. Schafer’s return to Ravenna in the mid-1990’s, he became involved in historic preservation, spearheading the Ravenna Flagpole restoration, providing guided tours of downtown historic buildings, and helping to establish the Main Street Ravenna program.
Upon Mr. Schafer’s passing in 2018, the Jack Schafer Trust provided monies to the City and Township to spearhead projects that would highlight Ravenna history through education, landscaping, and signage.
A Committee was established to identify projects that fit Mr. Schafer’s wishes. Mayor Frank Seman, Township Trustee Vince Coia, Architect Rick Hawksley, historian Debbie Sunderland, and Attorney Peggy DiPaola solicited ideas from the community. Besides the school history curricula, the Committee will provide funds to develop Gateway signs to the Ravenna community and provide historic markers highlighting Ravenna history. In addition, Portage County Regional Planning Commission will establish an interactive map to highlight historic structures throughout the City of Ravenna and Ravenna Township.
Ravenna Teachers’ proposals included the following curricula which will be introduced in the 2021-2022 school year:
Third and Fourth graders will explore Ravenna’s history, government, geography, and economics. The curriculum was conceived by educators, Amie Brackenrich, Shannon Strasser, and Betsy Kovacic.
Middle school teachers Lynn Hobart and Amy Seman collaborated with art teacher Lisa McKenna to establish an elective course that will spotlight Ravenna’s rich historical aspects with a focus on its architecture.
High School teachers Rick Sullivan and Matt Wunderle will establish a semester long Ravenna history course which will be part of the William R. Day Civics Institute.
An art program developed by Lisa McKenna, which spans grades 5-8 will focus students’ attention on their community through architecture and public art, instilling community pride.
Superintendent Dennis Honkala stated: “I am so very proud of all our teachers who took the initiative to apply for these monies for the purpose of implementing additional curricula for our students. Extending above and beyond teaching in the classroom and offering our students real-world experiences is invaluable. I applaud all of their efforts. Also, thanks to Mrs. Susan Huth, Director of Teaching and Learning grades 6-12, who made all of the contacts and facilitated the project from the beginning. Of course, none of this could be done without the generous donation from our long-time school supporter Jack Schafer. Many thanks to him and his family as well as to his friends and colleagues who helped to make all of this possible”.