History Preserves in the Bricks of the New Will Rogers Stadium
“Beloved Paw Paw,” reads one brick. “Stay Gold,” says another.
Alumni and other friends are donating engraved commemorative bricks to the new athletic stadium being built on the Will Rogers High School campus. Donors are creating a permanent addition to Rogers Ropers history with the dedications and memories in their bricks.
“We have bricks from all eighty years, the school’s first year, 1940, to the present,” said Jo Anne Lewis, a director and past president of the Will Rogers High School Community Foundation. “The stories just come to life when you read, ‘Miss Will Rogers’ or ‘Toe-Tappin’ Roper.’ Some people want to honor a loved one, and some just want to say how much the school means to them, like, ‘You Launched Us.”
Two bricks honor a legendary English teacher, “Mighty Madge Gibson.” Others salute past and current teachers and principals, parents, and siblings who graduated from Tulsa Will Rogers. Some list themselves, like Athlete of the Year and classmates who married. Some are poignant reminders like “Remembering Our Friendship.” Some donors simply want to add their name to the stadium and say, “Ride On Ropers.”
“This is real, living history,” Lewis said. “It’s moving to see how much people truly love this school.”
The tan-colored bricks are etched, then filled with a glass compound to keep out dirt and moisture. They blend with the masonry in the original school building and in the new construction, and architects designed the stadium to compliment the school’s stunning art deco design, which helped place it on the National Registry of Historic Places. The stadium, long a dream of Tulsa Will Rogers students, was funded by a bond issue passed several years ago by Tulsa voters. Students from schools throughout Tulsa and the surrounding area will use the facility after it opens in fall, 2020.
Proceeds from the sale of the bricks will benefit Will Rogers High School Community Foundation, a 501c-3 Charity, which has raised over $1 million to support the school. Since 2010, the Foundation has been contributing to classroom grants, software, athletic, art, and band equipment, trip sponsorship, and other needs. Bricks can be ordered through the Foundation website, willrogersfoundation.net/bricks/. The deadline for ordering is March 31, 2020.