If you grew up attending the Basalt schools or have ever gone to a sporting event at the high school, you’ve most likely noticed the Wall of Fame memorializing Longhorns by way of inscribed bricks. You also have most likely noticed that the wall is unfinished, and has been for many years.
That soon may change.
In the late-1990s, the Basalt Boosters Club — a group of parents dedicated to fundraising for school-related efforts that still exists today — set out to build the Field of Dreams, a sports stadium that includes football, soccer, baseball and softball fields, as well as a track for students and families to use.
Leslie Newbury and Jo Gawrys, Booster moms at the time their sons attended the Basalt schools, took on the idea of families being able to purchase bricks with a customized message on them, to leave their mark on the Basalt High School legacy to raise money for the stadium at the time. For every brick purchased, part of the funds were donated to help build the Field of Dreams, and the rest of the payment used to make and ship the brick.
While the stadium will turn 20 years old in 2020, the Wall of Fame remains unfinished.
“When Jo’s son and my son were out of high school, we were hoping the Boosters Club would carry on selling the bricks and try to finish the wall,” Newbury said. “But it hasn’t happened. So Jo and I would just love to see the wall completed.”
The idea behind the Wall of Fame was more to do with community and the history of students at BHS than anything else.
“A lot of the bricks stood out to me, especially bricks dedicated in the memory of someone who had passed, like my son, Erik,” Newbury said. “Whether it was a child or anyone, a brick represents a memory. There was a large group of people involved in helping to build the wall. We would have community work days and 20 to 30 of us would go out, just picking rocks up to clear a space for the wall. No one really has any idea any more of the work that went into the wall and how it symbolizes a community effort and a group of people who wanted to see it through, but also make improvements.”
“It’s also just a bit embarrassing, for the school and for the community, that it isn’t finished,” Gawrys added.
The issue with the Wall of Fame and why it’s remained unbuilt does not lie so much with lack of initiative, however, as it does with cost.
“We actually have continued to do the bricks throughout the years, so there are some more recent bricks in the wall,” said Judi Simecek, a current Boosters parent and treasurer of the club since 2014. “My own family has one for both our girls. The thing about the bricks is that they aren’t very cost effective to be a good source of fundraising revenue. You can imagine how much it costs to ship them and the amount of effort it takes to install them. For the prior four years, our profit averaged $500 per year. Which isn’t to say it isn’t worthwhile. The Boosters Club supports continuing the effort. Last year’s football team did a big team brick!”
Basalt High School published a Facebook post on Jan. 28 that called for anyone interested in purchasing a brick for the Wall to complete an order form and submit it by April 15, with payment.
The bricks are made and manufactured by Fundraising Brick in Hermann, Mo. It takes a month to make each brick. Four-inch-by-eight-inch bricks are available for $75 and eight-inch-by-eight-inch bricks are available for $150. Any use of symbols, such as a sports ball or music notes, are available for an additional $5 each. The plan is to install new bricks and add to the wall over the summer. A portion of your gift of a donor brick is a tax-deductible charitable contribution.
Upon hearing news of the latest effort to finish the wall, Newbury and Gawrys were excited and enthusiastic. Hopefully this is the kind of revival the Wall of Fame needs in order to reach completion. If anything, though, the wall may never be truly finished. It could end up stretching back to the baseball and softball fields to serve the memories of Longhorns and their families for years and years to come.
For anyone interested in purchasing a brick and donating to the Basalt Boosters, please email or call Kellie Smith of the Basalt Boosters at BHSBoostersBricks@gmail.com or (970) 948-0625.