HASTINGS, Iowa - Nishna Valley and Malvern merged a decade ago creating East Mills schools. The new schools came with a new mascot. But a mural at an Elementary School near Hastings, Iowa still represents the past.
The Wolverines, it's a simple name with a complicated back story. After two schools in town have been physically merged for a decade, there is still a very real emotional rivalry that is prevalent.
Back in the early sixties four schools in Iowa consolidated to create one school...Nishna Valley. Those schools were Hastings, Emerson, Henderson and Strahan. And in 1993 the art teacher Dick Erb painted a mural on wall in the entry way of Nishna Valley. “The mural was painted to show the history of the schools and what they had become as one,” said Rich Erb Jr, son of Dick Erb.
Nishna Valley was the home of the Blackhawks and their rivals were the Malvern panthers. 10 years ago Nishna Valley and Malvern consolidated to become the East Mills Wolverines. After a decade the school board has talked about possibly painting over this mural of the four old schools and a Blackhawk chief at East Mills Elementary.
Erb was saddened when he found out about a month ago. "It's part of my father and it's a part of all students that came together to form Nishna Valley,” said Erb. Especially following his father's passing in 2009. "He's still with me…and I think he's with a lot of his students too,” said Erb.
East Mills superintendent, Paul Croghan, declined an on-camera interview request due to a board meeting being held on Monday to discuss the issue. Off camera he did say that it's time to move on as East Mills instead of two separate schools. Currently a petition is circulating around town to keep the mural, with almost 1200 signatures on it. And Erb says that while he wants to keep the mural he's prepared for whatever ultimately happens. “Well probably mad first and then sad, but life moves on and time heals a lot of wounds,” said Erb.
There are people with very strong opinions on both sides of this issue, whether they are for or against keeping the mural and people say that they do not wish to share their comments publicly as they say their opinions could affect their reputation around town.