Independence students push on in trophy restoration

Refurbished trophies on display in the Independence media center. PHOTO BY DEREK LACEY

Refurbished trophies on display in the Independence media center. PHOTO BY DEREK LACEY

By Derek Lacey / Staff Writer

For an entire school year, students at Independence High School have been working to restore a chunk of school history from rusting and decaying in the basement.

The Independence DREAM Team, a group of student leaders, have been working to clean up and repair hundreds of trophies that were moved to a flood-prone basement years ago.

The trophies date as far back as the 60s, and encompass all sports and academic competitions, from football and basketball to scholars’ bowl and Future Farmers of America.

Beginning at the start of the school year, U.S. History teacher and advisor to the DREAM Team, Noel Hamrick, started taking the trophies out, cleaning them, and putting them on display in the media center.

Hamrick, who graduated from Independence in 1995, has even seen names of her classmates on trophies that the group has worked to repair.

Some trophies have only cosmetic damage that can be fixed with a quick clean-up, some have pieces missing or more extensive damage, some will need to be sent to professionals, and some are beyond repair completely.

“They spend anywhere between 15 and 25 minutes on each one, cleaning with toothbrushes and windex and they’ll put layers of Murphy’s Oil on the wood, trying to restore the shine,” Hamrick said.

Students have been working in any free class time they can find to get the history of Indy back on display, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

“We haven’t even made a dent,” said Hamrick. “Maybe 10 percent. When you look down there, you can hardly even tell.”

Now that the school year is over, and another set of students will make up the DREAM team, plans are in the works for an even stronger effort next year. For the first month of next year’s school calendar, Hamrick will be out for maternity leave, but the new DREAM Team will be focusing on the trophies as much as they can. Hamrick plans to use that time to teach the students about the history of the school.

With the new school year, Independence will also complete the construction of their new gym, which may include a brand new trophy case as well, a place to showcase all the hard work that won the trophies, and the work it took to get them back on display.

Hamrick will still be collecting donations of money and cleaning supplies through the summer, and said that she has already received a good bit of support from the community, including alumni, some of whom have challenged their class to raise money, and have expressed their sadness in learning about the trophies.

Donations can be cleaning supplies and money. For more information or to donate, contact Noel Hamrick, at noel.hamrick@cms.k12.nc.us.

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