Before a statue of Delaware’s own Rutherford B. Hayes is unveiled in downtown Delaware on Friday, a bust of the 19th president of the United States will be installed at Hayes High School.
Rutherford B. Hayes High School Principal Richard Stranges said when he started at the school in 2013, there was very little to commemorate the fact the school is the only one in the country named for President Hayes.
“Because we are Rutherford B. Hayes High School, the only one in the country, we thought it’d be important to put some things in the high school to represent the president,” Stranges said.
Stranges added when a committee began raising funds and creating plans to put up a statue of Hayes in downtown Delaware, the high school was part of those plans.
“The history piece was important, the education piece was important, and I think Hayes High School was important,” he said.
The committee raised $125,000 and commissioned Ohio artist and sculptor Alan Cottrill to create a statue for downtown as well as a bust for the high school.
Stranges said the bust will sit on a marble stand in the entrance at the high school, which also now features Hayes’ name, date of birth, a presidential seal with his years in office, and a quote about education. Stranges said Hayes was considered a very moral president, and the high school carries on his legacy.
“Those values live on today,” Stranges said. “It’s long overdue.”
On Wednesday, a truck carrying the statue will pass by several key locations in Delaware, including Hayes’ birthplace on East William Street and the high school that bears his name.
According to Stranges, the bust of Hayes will be installed at the high school on Wednesday, but it will be commemorated on Veterans Day to honor Hayes’ service in The Civil War.
Stranges said the statue of Hayes, which will be unveiled in downtown Delaware during the First Friday celebration on Oct. 4, wouldn’t have been possible without the community’s help.
“I think in our community, there’s a great sense of history, but also a great sense of pride in our community,” he said. “I think to bring our native son back fits both of those. For us, it was time and a lot of people in this great community helped us to achieve this.”
Stranges added that Delaware County Juvenile and Probate Judge David Hejmanowski also wrote and composed a fanfare for Hayes, and a recording of the high school’s symphony playing it will be played as the statue is unveiled along with a recording of the Hayes Singers performing the National Anthem.
A scroll with the signatures of students at Hayes who raised $1,111.41 for the project will be inserted into the statue’s left leg.
“I think from an educator’s point of view, that our students were part of the process will be something they’ll remember for the rest of their lives,” Stranges said. “What a great thing to tell your kids. I hope all our students who signed the document or gave money will go by that knowing their names are inside that statue. The placement of it, right there (in downtown), welcoming people to our great city is a neat thing, too. So, when you drive in from any direction, you’re welcomed by our native son.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.