The New Earthrise School Will Rise Wise to a ReNewed Life

By Kathleen Fernholz, School Sisters of Notre Dame


Little did we know that during the maple tree tapping season of 2006 others of our little rural community would bring their precious sap to Earthrise Farm. Here we would take turns in front of the big boiler watching the many gallons cook down into beautiful maple syrup. It was Lois who not only brought some sap, but she also asked us if we wanted an old historic 1917 country school house, District 63. At first it seemed like a wild idea with many questions, mighty moving costs, what did it look like and more. So the offer was stored away for several months until one day we drove out to look at it.

We fell in love with “her” immediately and yet the questions remained until one day at prayer the words of Rainer Maria Rilke came before me, “You must give birth to your images. They are the future waiting to be born. Fear not the strangeness you feel. The future must enter you …. long before it happens.” At that moment there seemed little doubt but that we needed to follow this call to bring this treasure to live a second life here at Earthrise before the wrecking ball took it.

schoolhouse being placed

Mother Theresa’s and Caroline’s witness as educators on new lands and horizons became clearer and stronger. What is one of our greatest educational needs of this 21st century? Mother Earth stepped forward — first in line. There seemed to be no doubt but that an Environmental Learning Center was a priority. It would belong to the entire community and that we, the rural community would help restore to vibrancy this vessel that already carried the stories of countless prairie folks of the past and some still with us.

Making a long unfinished and evolving story short we bought that school from the Garfield Township Board for one very precious dollar. We began to remove old plaster and lats from the basement ceiling of OUR school in preparation for the big move.

schoolhouse 1917

On July 11, 2007, at 8:30 in the morning the Thein Moving Company from Clara City was in the birthing room for a two and one half hours labor more than 14 miles of country gravel roads, bringing this “child” to a second birth at the Earthrise Farm. The folks who have waited these long months with us gathered to cheer and announce the birth of its old friend in a new home. We celebrated this arrival with a community picnic and welcoming ceremony. Again the words of SSND in many years past will speak clearly, “Take this CHILD and make it grow!”