Saving a school for community gain

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Kendallville: back to the roots of my many “Life’s Better Here” reports. Downtown is as I remember it. There’s Blue Heron Ice Cream, the very first place I visited two years ago. These buildings have many stories to tell, I’m sure, but there’s another building a few blocks to the east that is about to write a new story of its own.

“East Noble School Corporation had built a new middle school, because they need, they have different educational needs and a new facility fit their needs better. And originally they had proposed to demolish it,” says Tom Leedy, president of The Dekko Foundation.

That building is the old East Noble Middle School. Leedy and The Dekko Foundation saw potential in the school…one that could house their vision for a community learning center. After presenting their proposal, the school board handed the building over to the foundation.

“It’s right in the middle of Kendallville, so it’s in the heart of the city itself. And then the different amenities and features that this particular facility has were appealing.”

A lot of work is being done now to get the school ready. The hallways are dim, ceiling tiles are gone…but once the remodeling work is complete, the building will be ready to provide all kinds of educational programs, for both the young and young at heart.

“The overarching theme, if you will, is that this is about improving somebody’s self-sufficiency. Whether it’s a five-year-old learning self-regulation or an 85-year-old learning how to do something in a new way to remain independent, and everything in between.”

It may be another five years before the community learning center is fully operational, but certain parts of the project will be up and running much sooner. Those who step through these doors may find a new sense of wonder and confidence.

“The programs themselves will obviously help individuals to improve their skills or their knowledge or their character. In that sense, I think that it’s going to really increase the self-confidence and the self-esteem of individuals.

Life is good in Noble County, and programs like those offered at the community learning center will only make it better.

Caleb Chevalier

Caleb Chevalier

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