Broad Ripple High School memorabilia collection - by Mario Morone (from BRG v16n16 p. 1)
posted: Aug. 09, 2019
Broad Ripple High School alumni and Flanner Buchanan Owner/CEO Bruce Buchanan recently described his interest in preserving some of his alma mater's memorabilia.
"I have a great deal of interest in local and family history. I believe it's very important to keep significant things. I fell into this project because I went to a Broad Ripple High School Alumni Association meeting last year for another matter. At that meeting, I mentioned that I had been a professional photographer, so I volunteered to become the photographer of the BRHS archives. I wanted there to be quality pictures that researchers would be able to utilize," he explained.
(Left to Right) Broad Ripple High School alumni Curtis Baker, Jan Ottolini and Bruce Buchanan with the Rocket.
photo courtesy of Broad Ripple H.S. Alumni Association
Buchanan described his early career. "After Indiana University, I went on to work as a photojournalist at three different newspapers and then as a commercial photographer for ten years. I worked as a picture editor at the Times Picayune in New Orleans. I transitioned out of that and became a commercial photographer in Milwaukee. I came back to Indianapolis in the mid-1990s."
"My first trip to see the school's memorabilia was awe inspiring. Our volunteer team of BRHS Alumni Association members walked into a dance studio in the school and there it was: trophies, paintings, scrapbooks, yearbooks, sports jerseys and more. IPS staff had placed everything in cabinets and on tables. We saw the three state championship banners. Jan Ottolini is a co-chair with me on this project. We, along with Jack Hogan, Curtis Baker, Kerry Yount, Kent Springer and Annabelle Paul organized and started to catalog the items. I set up a photo studio and over eight trips we photographed 1,000 three-dimensional items," he mentioned.
"We know much has been given away or taken over the years. Alumni, when they heard about this effort, started asking us about specific awards or items. There is very little from the music department in the archive, for example. I was told that there were tapes made of the BRHS Golden Singers. We are doing our best to track down specific requests," Buchanan said. If any Gazette readers or local residents know the whereabouts of significant items, they should contact the BRHSAA through their Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/groups/Broadripplealumni/ or via email at email@example.com.
"A policy for the archive has been drafted by the Alumni Association, with the assistance of the Indianapolis Public Library. It needs to be approved by IPS to become official. This will allow us to finish the process of cataloging the items so the inventory will be available for search on-line. Our committee is sorting the collection into three categories: to be kept in a museum, sell, or give away. We hope to sell some of these items to raise money for the archives' long-term preservation. We will hire an intern to catalog and place items on-line. There are dozens of scrapbooks with newspaper articles and photographs. The Riparian newspaper is there in bound editions. These items need to be scanned, which takes time and money," he emphasized.
"There will be a BRHS Homecoming Alumni event on October 5th at the high school where we are planning to show and auction some of these items off," Buchanan noted.
There are potential locations where school memorabilia could appear. "It may be possible to incorporate some items into the proposed Broad Ripple River Walk. This is a trail that will run along the river in front of the school. We hope to create a BRHS hall of fame. We might utilize some of the pictures from the archive," he mentioned.
Some of BRHS mementos can currently be seen. "There is now a display case at Flanner Buchanan's Broad Ripple location that will include some memorabilia as well. Right now there are over 50 years of yearbooks on display. The public is invited to stop in to view the books. If you see something you like, take a picture of it," says Buchanan.
He recalled some memories of his days at BRHS. "I was a writer for the school newspaper called The Riparian where I worked with many editors that later went on to news careers. Gretchen Letterman, (David's sister) was a classmate of mine who worked on the yearbook staff. We worked together at Indiana University on that school's yearbook."
"I was a student at BRHS at the beginning of forced busing and integration, so I got an incredible social education outside of the classroom. I saw the transition and the turbulence that came with that dramatic change. I had a great high school experience with good teachers as mentors. I played on the freshman and junior varsity basketball teams. I was a member of the 1972 State Champion tennis team. BRHS was a real powerhouse in tennis from the late 1960s through 1973," he said.
Buchanan also mentioned that The Purdue Polytechnic School is opening this fall across the street from Flanner Buchanan on Indianola. "As BRHS died, a new school is being born two blocks away. Our parking lot will be a safe drop-off-spot for students. We're right in the middle of things, so we're going to be impacted by both the old and the new. It's an exciting time."
He concluded, "BRHS alums are combining their efforts to preserve their schools' memorabilia for future generations. It will not only tell a history of their high school's accomplishments but also create a living legacy for these archived items to educate residents of all ages in Broad Ripple and beyond. The 132-year history of BRHS reflects the many changes our city has seen. I am so pleased that the archive is getting done."