Amid the heat of summer days and the festivities of the annual Greene Countrie Towne Festival, Greenfield will once again pause to honor the memory of Edward Lee and Lulu McClain with the annual Edward Lee McClain Day set for later this month.
It is something that 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 much-loved high school was a gift from Greenfield native, industrialist and philanthropist Edward Lee McClain and his wife, Lulu.
McClain class of 1955 graduate Larry “Rock” Roosa was behind the idea to set aside a day 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 at the school, a place that 100 years has changed very little.
In the years that have followed the 2015 centennial celebration and rededication of the school, 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 Sunday, July 18 at 1 p.m.
This year’s ceremony, to be held at the school’s marble staircase, will include the McClain Cadet Corps presenting the colors, as well as longtime educator Danny Long reprising his role as Edward Lee McClain. Following the ceremony, there will be guided tours offered and a reception with cake and punch.
With the school, the McClains left an extraordinary gift to the community. It is a place where education, respect and community are taken seriously.
McClain High School was dedicated in September of 1915, and soon after the first students filled 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 athletic fields, 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.
In his speech during the 2015 centennial celebration of McClain High School, former district superintendent Terry Fouch said the McClains, “Had the vision of a great institution designed to train the heart and head and hand of the youth of the community, and through them and its civic activities, to touch the lives of every man and woman in this community.”
The institution of McClain has done all those things and continues to inspire respect and pride year after year.
All are welcome and invited to join the administration, staff and community as the legacy of the McClains and the institution that bears their name is celebrated.
“Edward Lee McClain Day is a time when we can pause and show appreciation for the gift that was bestowed upon the village of Greenfield,” Greenfield Superintendent Quincey Gray said. “It also provides an opportunity for community members and visitors from outside the community to tour the high school. As we reflect on the dedication given by Edward Lee McClain when the building was constructed, we are hopeful that many people will take advantage of the opportunity to celebrate with us.”
Angela Shepherd is a correspondent for the Greenfield Exempted Village School District.