GARRETT — March began with science fairs, spelling bees and show choir contests, but activities came to a hard stop by mid-month due to the onset of COVID-19 in this review of stories that ran in The Garrett Clipper in March.
Dozens of experiments were entered in the J.E. Ober science fair by students in kindergarten through grade five. Judges examined the projects and prizes were announced for each grade division and for specialty categories sponsored by local businesses. Participation was on a voluntary basis. All first-and second-place winners in grades 1-5 qualified for the regional science fair competition on March 14 at Trine University. Tammy Smith coordinated the J.E. Ober science fair.
The Garrett Garden Club donated proceeds from its evergreen fundraiser to the Community Care Food Pantry, St. Martin’s Soup Kitchen, Garrett-Keyser-Butler school lunches and purchased supplies for the school nurse’s office.
Taxpayers in the Garrett-Keyser-Butler School District learned they will be charged a lower rate for 2020 according to the annual Financial Report Card presented at the February meeting of the school board. The 2020 tax rate was set at 1.1031 per $100 of assessed property value, compared to 1.670 the previous year, the report showed.
Jude Hoeffel, an eighth-grader at Garrett Middle School, won the 66th annual Journal Gazette Regional Spelling Bee by correctly spelling “farrier.” Hoeffel, 13, is the son of Gregg and Marcia Hoeffel.
DeKalb County health officials were preparing for an arrival of the coronavirus that seemed inevitable. DeKalb County Health Officer Mark Souder said the virus would probably spread over the entire country eventually. “It’s just a matter how fast,” he said, noting the virus had already arrived in Indiana with the first case confirmed in Marion County the previous week.
The Garrett High School Encore Show Choir finished third in the Tier II Mixed Division at East Noble in early March. The previous week, the choir advanced to the finals at Churubusco, placing sixth.
The onset of COVID caused the cancellation of Garrett’s third annual Railroader Rush show choir contest planned March 21. The decision by school officials on March 18 was made only two hours before the Indiana State Schools Music Association announced all festivals through April 11 were being canceled, including the state show choir competition. Ten schools had registered to bring 16 choirs to Garrett for the local competition.
Like other public school districts in the county, Garrett students were not in class beginning March 15 in an effort to try and prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The decision was made over the weekend after school officials concluded a meeting with representatives from the DeKalb County Health Department.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb granted schools up to 20 days of waivers from the requirement of 180 school days. Prior to the cancellation announcement, Garrett school officials sent a memo to parents and guardians that indoor visitor and spectator-attended school events would be indefinitely suspended beginning March 14 until further notice.
The Northeastern Indiana Tri-State Regional Science Fair on March 14 was shifted to a virtual format following the guidance of the Science Education Foundation of Indiana. Student participants were instructed on how to submit their projects for review. The number and types of awards remained the same. Garrett High School students Grace Weller and Dylan Raymond were selected to advance to the Indiana Hoosier Science and Engineering Fair, also judged online.
The onset of COVID also resulted in the cancellation of Honor Flight Northeast Indiana in April and May.
One of the last student activities before the pandemic caused the closure of schools was the biennial trip to Washington, D.C. for juniors and seniors.
A group of 29 students and 12 chaperones visited historical sites in Washington D.C, Gettysburg and Shanksville, Pennsylvania earlier in March.
Daily schedules were altered and abbreviated as several locations in the Washington D.C. metro area were closing due to developing concerns about the coronavirus. The group did experience a full day of learning about historical landmarks, including the exterior of the U.S. Capitol, Library and Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the White House and the National Holocaust Museum.
The group continued its tradition of laying a wreath for GHS alumni or faculty member at the World War II Memorial. This year, they honored the late Richard Capin, a World War II veteran and longtime Garrett High School teacher and coach.