The Burcham family members, community and students gathered Friday afternoon near the cupola on the grounds of Elkin Elementary School as they honored John Bartlett Burcham’s contribution as the architect of the Elkin Graded School, which opened 100 years ago and served Elkin students until 1975.
Elkin Elementary School Student Government President Abigail Wagoner and Secretary Alison Wells shared a brief history of the Elkin Graded School with those in attendance, including fourth- through sixth-graders.
Elkin City Schools Superintendent Dr. Randy Bledsoe said he hopes the students now will “carry for the next 100 years where this came from … We have people here today who remember the importance of Elkin Graded School.”
He explained that the community “wanted the very best facility they could provide. John B. Burcham was the architect, and today we honor Mr. Burcham who drew the plans out.
“What I want you to do is carry forward the importance of tradition,” he said. “Take pride in your education, in Elkin City Schools that we’re trying to do the very best for you.”
Bledsoe said, “When you go by this tomorrow, next week, remember it was on a school building that was built in 1915.”
Granddaughter of Burcham, who was a native of the tri-county area, Kathy Burcham Heron and her husband Mark were recognized for putting the 100th anniversary celebration in motion by wanting to honor Burcham with a plaque on the cupola.
Heron in turn introduced two of her grandfather’s children who were in attendance, John B. Burcham Jr. and his wife Delores and Kathleen Burcham Land and her husband William. Also attending Friday’s unveiling of the plaque was Heron’s mother, Christina Burcham, who found the original drawings of the Elkin Graded School and other buildings and houses around Elkin among the collection of things her husband, James Burcham, had kept of his father’s.
The plaque, affixed to the south side of the cupola which also houses the bell from the graded school, honors Burcham’s contribution as architect and also names the board of education at the time the Elkin Graded School opened and the current board of education members.
“My hope is this plaque will turn into a historical marker and one day we can get a nice historical marker like those on the area trails that tells about the Elkin Graded School,” said Bledsoe.
John and Joe Burcham, grandchildren of John B. Burcham, removed the blue cloth unveiling the plaque on the side of the cupola.
“To the Burchams, we’re so proud of the rich talents your family brought to Elkin,” Bledsoe said. “I hope in 100 years people will be just as proud of the school system and its traditions.”
“For 13 years, I’ve been walking by the cornerstone on Elkin Elementary School,” said James Freeman, Elkin City Schools Board of Education member. “It epitomizes this community. The community investment is what makes it so great.”
The program, just as the morning program had, ended with the singing of the Elkin School Song.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.