New Berlin — With the sale of the former Glen Park Elementary School pending, the specially-designed stained glass art that framed the school's main doors has been rescued and given a new home at another New Berlin school.
Now at Elmwood Elementary School, 5900 S. Sunnyslope Road, the glass art was rededicated in ceremonies recently.
For the glass art, artist/New Berlin teacher and resident Bruce Heil recreated in vibrant colored glass each season of the school year. He incorporated letters of the alphabet to reflect the learning that went on inside the school where he taught.
The 84-square-foot work of art took Heil six months to create. The Glen Park Home and School funded the project that was a major work on Heil's journey to obtain a master's degree in art education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Transferring the stained glass work to a new home illustrates once again how the school district treasures the gifts it receives, said Andy Stefancin, director of buildings and grounds.
"From a community standpoint, it's important for people to know they don't get lost or thrown away," he said.
Another example of a gift that has been preserved is an elaborate quilt that once was at the former Prospect Hill Elementary School, he said. The quilt is now protected and on display in a case in the New Berlin Senior Center, Stefancin said.
"It's gorgeous," he said.
Moving the stained glass art was not as hard as it could have been because the panels were laid into the windows for protection, he said. So, they were easily removed, sandwiched between cardboard and slabs of wood, piled up and shrink-wrapped for transport, he said.
Finding the large work of art a home was a lot harder.
"It was the only place in the district that has a big enough setting," Stefancin said of Elmwood. But everything worked out well.
"It turned out really nice," Stefancin said.
Heil was known for his caring and for inspiring his students.
He bought art supplies with his own funds, fought for student art displays and focused on troubled kids through a mentoring program. He was co-author of an art education curriculum guide, developed a permanent art collection and gallery for Prospect Hill and Glen Park schools, and came to the School Board with art program proposals.
Heil, who also won acclaim himself as an artist, died in 2001 at the age of 50.
Glen Park, 3500 S. Glen Park Road, has been closed for two years and the school board has an accepted offer of $1.75 million for the school and the 10 acres it sits on from the Heritage Christian Schools, town of Brookfield.
To a large extent, the sale hinges on the city allowing Heritage to build a gymnasium addition and approving the proposed operations plan.
The school had planned to go before the Plan Commission June 2 and then July 7, but could not furnish plans in time for either meeting. With school just letting out in June, school officials were finally able to submit documents for the Aug. 4 meeting by the June 27 deadline, said Heritage Superintendent John Davis.
The School Board extended the deadline for closing on the property until after the August Plan Commission meeting, Davis said.
— Audrey Juds and Jane Ford-Stewart
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