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Swisher named Kiwanis’ citizen of the year

A retired teacher who used her time in the classroom to get youths involved in community service projects that have had a lasting impact was honored as Bellefontaine Kiwanis Club’s citizen of the year.

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Kris Swisher, president of the Logan County Landmark Preservation Society board whose efforts as a teacher resulted in the ongoing restoration of the Holland Theatre and saving the historic Flatwoods School, was honored Thursday as Bellefontaine Kiwanis Club’s citizen of the year. (EXAMINER PHOTO | REUBEN MEES)

Kris Swisher, who is now president of the Logan County Landmark Preservation Society, received the award Thursday for inspiring youths to kick off the efforts to save the Holland Theatre and also the one-room Flatwoods School.

“When Kris was teaching gifted students, she led her students to move beyond the classroom walls to get involved in community projects,” Kiwanian Vicci Elder wrote in her nomination letter, before listing the three major projects her students at Bellefontaine City Schools were involved with.

The first was the Top of Ohio Trail, which was an effort to convert a former railroad bed into a bicycle path between Bellefontaine and Indian Lake. While the students worked with the Logan County Engineer’s Office, the project was eventually abandoned because it lacked the widespread community support to make it happen.

The second project, which began in 1998 and continues today, was the effort to save the Holland Theatre when students learned it was in jeopardy of being abandoned and potentially torn down.

The students produced a play called As the Windmill Turns, which became the first live performance at the Holland in many years.

“The students’ efforts were seen by local citizens who got behind the initiative to save the historic building,” Ms. Elder wrote. “As a result of this, the Logan County Landmark Preservation Society was born ... and due to (Ms. Swisher’s) leadership, the Holland is in full operation today.”

The final of the three projects was an effort in 2000 to save the Flatwoods School, which was an endangered one-room school for the African American community located near Ridgeway. The community again got behind the effort and the school was saved and moved to West Mansfield’s Veterans Memorial Park, where it still serves as an educational resource.

 

 

 

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