Sam Barnhouse would have been honored, but also might have chuckled, his fellow Hillsboro Board of Education members said Thursday, at the board’s recent decision to name its new athletic and wrestling building after the late longtime Hillsboro educator.
Barnhouse passed away Sept. 11. He spent 35 years as a Hillsboro teacher, assistant principal, principal, guidance counselor and coach, plus the past seven-plus years as a school board member. He was also a longtime high school football official.
The new 14,000-square football building, scheduled to be completed around the middle of next month, will be named the Sam Barnhouse Center.
“I think he’d chuckle. But I think he’d be honored, too, because that’s the way Sam was,” board vice president Bill Myers said. “He’d be like, ‘Oh, no,’ but I think he’d think it was an honor. I think it’s a great way to honor his time and dedication to the students, and something that will live on.”
The building will house locker rooms, a large weight training facility, offices and a multipurpose space that will provide practice space for the wrestling team and for other purposes outside of wrestling, the Hillsboro City Schools said in a news release.
A plaque honoring Barnhouse will be placed inside the entrance to the building and there will also be a sign on the front of the building bearing his name, board president Terry Britton said.
“The locker rooms will permit football practice at soon-to-be-completed practice fields. This will save the cost of transporting teams to the fields near the football stadium. Construction of the practice fields will begin this fall in the space between the new stadium and tennis courts,” the new release said.
There will be four practice fields – two for football and two for soccer – with the hope of having them ready for use by the the beginning of the next school year, superintendent Jim Smith said at last month’s board meeting.
A concession/restroom building near the entrance to the new stadium is also expected to be ready for use by next month, Britton said.
There are future plans to add a fieldhouse to the concession/restroom building, but Britton said that will be a while and will depend on the school district’s financial situation.
Myers said he started thinking about how the school could honor Barnhouse after his death, came up with the idea of naming the athletic building for him, then called the other board members one night to see what they thought. He said he originally thought of naming it the Barnhouse Building, but then talked to Barnhouse’s wife, Lisa. She said the family would be happy with however the school decided to honor her husband, but thought it would be nice to include his first name since that’s how everyone knew him, Myers said.
“We just decided we wanted to do something because Sam was such a good friend of our’s and was a school board member and was so involved in the school,” board member Beverly Rhoads said. “We decided that we have a new building and since he was involved in athletics we just wanted to do something to honor him, and this is what we thought was appropriate.”
“I think he would be honored,” Rhoads added. “He wouldn’t go around and say, ‘Why don’t you do something to honor me when I’m gone. He wasn’t that kind of guy. But he was the top vote getter both times he ran for the school board, so you know all those kids that he had in school and now are adults were voting for him.”
Britton said there will likely be some kind of bronze plaque inside the entrance to the building, probably with a note from the family. But he said the board hasn’t sat down with sign people yet to decide exactly what the interior or exterior signage will look like.
“I think Sam would be very gracious,” Britton said. “He was all in for the kids and if the kids needed something … he did a lot for kids financially that no one knows about.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.