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'A place is just a place,' as one teacher said. But what happens there matters as well.

CARDINAL TIMES PHOTO - Jim Peerenboom directs Lincoln's drama program. For him, the theater holds memories from plays he did years ago as well as memories of students he has taught throughout his career.
Lincoln High School, from its first site to this current one, has existed since 1869. In early 2020, the construction of a new Lincoln building began. With the new building inching closer and closer to completion, many teachers are beginning to reflect on their time in the old Lincoln building and all the memories and problems that came with it.

Sophomore English teacher Samuel Wilson is not only a teacher at Lincoln High School but also an alumnus.

"It's interesting to think that this building was once new and fresh. There is something about the space itself that collects or holds the memories. It holds generations. So I do think that a building can have a certain character that developed overtime. So this new building in a way feels like a new opportunity. It also feels like it doesn't have a soul yet," Wilson said.

Jim Peerenboom has been at Lincoln for 27 years, the entirety of his teaching career. Peerenboom primarily teaches and directs Lincoln's drama program. For him the theater holds memories from plays he did years ago as well as memories of students he has taught throughout his career.

"I am a big one for imprinting — that people may go but their memories stay behind. I see people's signatures backstage and I remember those people from 10, 15, 20 or more years ago. Even when I see the tears in the carpet or the seat that's looking pretty janky I remember all the learning that took place there," Peerenboom said.

International Baccalaureate and high-level biology teacher Maureen Kenny has taught at Lincoln for 23 years. She has many fond memories of Lincoln that are specific to being in the current building.

"Being in assemblies packed in there in those stands. It's something kind of cozy about that gym when it's full of people," Kenny said. "One time a hawk flew into (Ms.Raczek's) room. That was crazy. It didn't just fly in; it actually hit the window and came into the classroom while she was teaching."

Lincoln's culinary teacher, Melanie Hammericksen, looks forward to having a larger, better space in the new building, but also will miss the space that she has come to know during her four years teaching at Lincoln.

"There are certain parts of it that I will miss because this has been my first four years, but mostly it's just memories. I am going to miss how tight knit we are because we have no space. We're kind of all smushed in here together so it forces us to create community and family," Hammericksen said.

Hammericksen also shared her own experience of having animals in the classroom.

"One time we were in the middle of class and there was a mouse crawling up the wall into a little hole. That was a pretty exciting Lincoln memory," Hammericksen said.

Arabic teacher Ruqayya Jarad reflected on the memories and community she has built in her classroom in the old Lincoln building for the last six years.

"I am going to miss this class. I love this cozy tiny place where all my students connect and have a really amazing experience learning Arabic. It has a lot of positive memories with my students and with myself, so I will miss this classroom in particular," Jarad said.

Marie Meyer has taught Mandarin at Lincoln for 13 years. She is sad to say goodbye to the familiar surroundings that hosted many joyous celebrations but is looking forward to the newly designed building with more lights and bigger classrooms.

"We had some really awesome Chinese New Year celebrations during lunchtime. All the students would come here and we would have many different kinds of booths, so that's a really good memory," Meyer said.

Mark Halpern has been an English teacher at Lincoln for 17 years. He teaches junior high-level English and one period senior English class. He reflects on the sense of community he feels in his current classroom and how that will change when transitioning into the new building.

"I have no attachment to the building, but I do feel an attachment to my room, and the years of community that I have had in my room," Halpern said. "There has been a lot of life inside this portable and I am going to miss it."

Halpern doesn't feel that the building matters but instead places value on what the Lincoln Student body brings to it.

"A building's just a building, a place is just a place. All that really matters is what goes on in the places … being able to teach the kids in this school has been an honor and has been the highlight of my career," Halpern said.

Jordan Gutlerner has been an English teacher at Lincoln for 23 years. He feels a little bit of stress about leaving the building and packing everything up.

"I'm very used to this building, and I have things a certain way and I have a room that's not exactly mine but for all intents and purposes sort of is. So I'm just nervous about leaving all of that and what that's going to look like in the new school," Gutlerner said.

Gutlerner feels like the building is a home away from home.

"Granted it's a dilapidated, ugly, run down home away from home but it's a home-away-from-home nevertheless. So I'm just going to miss being in a place that I am really used to," Gutlerner said.


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