Free Soil will have party of the century, celebrating school’s life

April 12, 2013
Free Soil school opening dedication in 1913.

Free Soil school opening dedication in 1913.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

FREE SOIL – On June 30 of this year, an institution in this northeast MasonCounty village will come to an end. Free Soil School District will end its 100th and final year with the party of the century.

Members of the Free Soil Alumni Association.

Members of the Free Soil Alumni Association.

The Free Soil Community Schools All Class Reunion Community Celebration will take place on Saturday, June 22. The event will feature live bands, a pig roast, speakers, awards, games for adults and kids and even souvenir t-shirts.

The event is being planned by the Free Soil Alumni Association, which has been meeting every Wednesday in the community gym.

“It’s the end of an era and we want to recognize the people who made this school possible,” Phil Keilman, president of the alumni association, said during the association’s meeting. “We want to get the word out to as many people who attended Free Soil, worked at the school or had any type of association with it. We want this to be big.”

Building Free Soil school 1912

Building Free Soil school 1912

Keilman estimated between 300 to 500 people will be attending. The association estimates there are about 1,300 alumni in existence.

Free Soil School opened its doors in 1913. The original school house was used throughout the school’s history with additional structures, an elementary and a gymnasium, being added on.

The last senior class graduated in 2007. The school continued as a kindergarten through eighth grade school until 2010. But the school fell victim of Michigan’s schools of choice law, which allows students to chose which school they will attend.

Free Soil school now

Free Soil school now

MCE agreed to absorb the district and the voters of the Free Soil district voted in favor of annexation earlier this year. The school district will officially end on June 30. The current school board agreed to donate all of the buildings to the village of Free Soil before annexation takes place. Superintendent Ron Nurnberger said the buildings will be in great condition, allowing for many more years of community use.

Steve Rybicki is a 1986 graduate of the school and served as a teacher and later as principal. He said the reunion will be a chance to celebrate the district’s rich history.

Plans so far:

1 to 3 p.m.: Pre-registration; 50/50 tickets go on sale with drawing at 10 p.m. (don’t need to be present to win).

3 to 3:30 p.m.: Formal kick-off of event. Announcements, speakers, awards and recognitions.

3:30 to 9 p.m.: Athletic events and games for all ages.

3 to 11 p.m.: Bands in gym: 2:30 to 6 p.m. Just for Fun polka band; 6 to 9 p.m. Katz ‘n Jammers rock variety; 9 to end Shot Man Band.

4 p.m.: group photos

5 p.m.: Pig roast.

11 p.m.: Bon fire and closing programs.


The alumni association board includes members from the classes of 1956 to 2004. They include: Jason Austin, 2004; Anna Morong-Bazarik, 1963; James Carey, 1962; Melvin Carey, 1961; Kimberly Drake, 1993; Bernita Eddy-Nesbitt-Hurd, 1962; Steve Rybicki, 1986; Kellie Mckie-Shilander, 1984; James Stockman, 1989; Gregg Surma, 1970; Fred Thomas, 1964; Helen Gancarz, 1956; Joseph Pat Hurd, 1961. Phil Keilman serves as the board of education vice president.

For more information, visit the school’s Facebook page here; contact Keilman at or mail information to Alumni Association, 8480 N. Democrat St., Free Soil, MI 49411.


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