It’s the middle of summer break the last school year just behind and the coming school year just ahead, the time of year where there is a pause to honor Edward and Lulu McClain, who helped make the Greenfield school campus a reality.
Edward Lee McClain Day began in 2016, a year after McClain High School alumni, residents, students, staff and visitors celebrated 100 years since the high school was dedicated and opened to students. The high school was a gift from Greenfield native, industrialist and philanthropist Edward Lee McClain and his wife, Lulu.
In the years that have followed, the day honoring the McClains has been held during the third weekend in July in conjunction with the Greene Countrie Towne Festival. This year’s E.L. McClain Day is on Sunday, July 17 at 1 p.m.
The ceremony will be held at the marble staircase and will include longtime educator Danny Long reprising his role as Edward Lee McClain. A proclamation from the village will also be presented. Afterward, there will be cake, courtesy of 1955 McClain graduate Larry Roosa.
Following the ceremony, there will be guided tours offered which will include the updated library cases done by the Greenfield Historical Society, as well as the new gym lobby and locker room expansion.
Roosa was behind the idea for a day set aside each year to honor the McClains. He has a deep love and appreciation for the school, as do a lot of those who have spent any amount of time there, a place that 100 years has changed very little.
McClain High School was dedicated in September 1915, and soon after the first students filed into its hallways and classrooms. According to the Greenfield Historical Society, in the years that followed the McClains expanded their initial gift to include the vocational building with the natatorium, and later land for the athletic field, all of which continue to be an integral part of the campus.
Every McClain student has walked the same halls and learned in the same classrooms, all while surrounded by the artwork — more than 120 paintings, 37 sculptures, more than a dozen photographs, drinking fountains with Rookwood pottery backgrounds, four Latin inscribed Moravian panels on the exterior of the high school — all meant by the McClains to enrich the educational experience.
“We look forward to Edward Lee McClain Day each year,” Greenfield Superintendent Quincey Gray said. “It’s a time to remember and honor both him and Mrs. McClain for their contributions to the education of generations of students. We hope to see many guests come out for the ceremony and tours of the high school.”
Angela Shepherd is a correspondent for the village of Greenfield.