A Facebook group started in late June that quickly attracted 448 members registering protests and seeking information about this summer’s destruction and removal of the iconic concrete monument topped by an iron anchor in the courtyard of Dana Middle School finally got an official answer today, Tuesday, Aug. 14, from School Board President Joann Steinmeier.
In a letter from Steinmeier to Rory Bennett, the primary leader of the campaign who posted the letter on the Facebook Group she started — Friends of the Dana Middle School Anchor (Arcadia, CA) — Steinmeier said the anchor (impedes) the flow of student traffic on the newly reconfigured campus (artist rendering at right – click here for photos taken Friday, Aug. 17, of many of the improvements throughout the campus). Dana is the second of all three middle schools to undergo a major face-life as part of the quarter-billion dollar Measure I bond issue.
Steinmeier said the anchor itself, which sat atop the monument, has been preserved and will be showcased in a fenced area in a slightly upright position in a new, smaller courtyard outside of the new library facing First Avenue closer to the completion of overall construction. That is, pending board approval of the $25,000 cost to do so.
Commenters to Steinmeier’s letter on Facebook seemed only partially mollified, suggesting that the $25,000 expenditure is excessive and would not have been necessary if the monument had not been destroyed in the first place. Many feel it could have easily and respectfully been incorporated into the new courtyard design.
“Like you, we believe this to be an important symbol for the students of Dana now as in the past,” Steinmeier wrote.
When word and photos of the demolition of the monument emerged in mid-June, Bennett — a Dana Junior High cheerleader in 1972-73 and 1976 recipient of an Arcadia Alumni Association Scholarship – and dozens of others expressed a sense of loss as well as anger and frustration that alumni and others with an emotional stake in memories of the monument had not been alerted or consulted and that no information about the fate of the fixture was made available upon requests in July. Dozens of personal and yearbook photos dating back for decades were posted of students and groups posing in, on, and around the monument.
Steinmeier’s letter was in response to Bennett’s letter summarizing the concerns expressed in the Facebook group over the loss of the half-century-old monument that represented what is described as a symbol of school pride not unlike USC’s Tommy Trojan or the UCLA Bruin. In addition to a favorite spot for photo ops, it also provided a physical incarnation of the rite of passage for upper class Dana Mariner students who, according to tradition, earned the right to sit on the monument during lunch break. The monument and the tradition provided a source of pride and confidence. “Friendships were forged on it, school dances were staged around it and first kisses were shared on it,” Bennett wrote.
– By Scott Hettrick