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ST. ANSGAR | With former principal of St. Ansgar’s Washington Elementary School Bill Carlson emceeing, the one-year anniversary South Square and the 90th birthday celebration of the building kicked off strong.

Rooms were open to show visitors the many changes the former school had undergone over the past year, following management of the school shifting from the St. Ansgar School District to the St. Ansgar Historic School Project.

The changes include a community room, stained glass and painting rooms, art gallery, dance and wrestling spaces, to the rooms still available for rent for practice spaces, crafting centers, offices and so much more.

Across from the gym is the South Square coffee shop, where the aroma of freshly brewed beans filled the air. Tables were full of people talking, laughing and enjoying coffee, sandwiches, water, snacks and cake that had been provided for the event.

Many took the time to stop by the glass cases, in the hallway, and admire the memories of the past, while others explored the gallery, discussed the art and the artists, whose work was displayed there.

“We are always looking for more local artists, who wish to display their work,” said gallery organizer Debra Freeman. “We try to rotate things out every few months to maximize the number of displays.”

In addition, two colorful T-shirt quilts were on display outside of the gallery, each one to be auctioned off. Each square was made with St. Ansgar Saints T-shirts, from a variety of sports and activities through the years.

“The last time I was on this stage was 2011, I believe,” said Carlson, as he launched into his greeting of the evening. “It was a Dare Graduation, I believe. While you’re here, I hope you all take the time to look around at all that has been accomplished in the past years and thank the volunteers who have made it possible.”

From the initial idea that sparked a fundraiser and numerous appearances before the school board, to Bingo nights and the most recent play held on the South Square Stage, volunteers have worked behind the scenes to clean, paint, upgrade, set up, direct, and fulfill a wide variety of roles that have been requested of them.

In addition, local businesses pulled together to donate the spring flowers that adorned the stage, creating a festive spring atmosphere.

On various tables and chairs around the room sat colorful signs on wooden sticks bearing messages about supporting South Square, with the idea being that those in attendance could take selfies with the signs and post them on Facebook and other social media sites to show their support as well as how much fun they were having at the event.

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Regional Editor

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