G-R community gathers for 'final push' before vote

A group of over 200 Gladbrook-Reinbeck students, fans and parents came together for a prayer vigil that featured several speakers on Monday evening in the lead-up to Tuesday's dissolution vote. (Photo contributed by Michele Knaack)

Less than 12 hours before polls opened for G-R board elections, a crowd of more than 200 people gathered in front of the high school in Reinbeck for a night of prayer and discussion of how to proceed after Tuesday's dissolution vote, regardless of the final result.


The overall message was one that largely advocated for a "no" vote to the dissolution proposal on the ballot, but also made a call to action for those in the G-R community to foster stronger bonds across the divisions that the contentious issue has raised within the district boundaries.


Reinbeck pastor Terry Plocher began the event with a message of unity.


"We come not as voters, students, parents, staff, citizens… but as children of God," Plocher said.


The vigil, which was planned over the weekend, was inspired in part by G-R Superintendent David Hill's blog post last week that discussed the "final push" before the vote, in reference to a moment from last November's state semifinal football game where Gladbrook's Thomas Mussig helped push Reinbeck's Parker Bown across the goal line for a Gladbrook-Reinbeck touchdown. G-R won that semifinal game and would go on to win a second-consecutive football title.


"It was time to come together. … Instead of being angry about something, we want to celebrate what we already have," Reinbeck resident Michele Knaack said of the inspiration for Monday's gathering. "This isn't a time for fighting and bickering."


Hill presented to the crowd the results of a project where G-R students were asked to describe what made G-R special in five words, with various students praising the school's teachers, athletic programs and community and then added his own entry: "The people standing here tonight."


Caleb Sieh, an assistant coach for the G-R boys' basketball team, implored the crowd to respect those in Gladbrook, no matter what their opinion was on the dissolution vote.


"We should encourage compassion going forward," Sieh, a Reinbeck resident, said. "Folks in Gladbrook are hurting. … We can be rah-rah (about the vote), but what are we going to do to make the community better?"


Current G-R students and recent Rebel graduates also spoke their mind on Monday.


Taylor Frischmeyer, a sophomore at G-R, talked about the experience of the Gladbrook campus closing and the difficulties that created, but asked those able to cast a vote to think of the children that will be affected and to show the same commitment to making G-R a better community that student-athletes like her show toward their academic and athletic goals.


Barry Thede, an assistant for the Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck boys' soccer team, made a personal appeal with regard to a recent addition to the Thede family.


"I have a newborn over there," Thede said, pointing toward the crowd, "that I'd want to see be a Rebel. That would mean a lot to me."


Another Reinbeck pastor, Oscar Yturriaga, led the group in "The Lord's Prayer" to close the proceeding.


Before the crowd dispersed, they were led in one final cheer of "We are G-R!"


"This was a tremendous show of support, but I'm honestly not surprised by it because this school has tremendous support," Hill said. "We have every reason to believe that we can continue to do an incredible job serving kids for many more years to come and that we have a bright future once we get past this vote tomorrow.


"I hope that when it's all over that we can remember that every part of the Gladbrook-Reinbeck school district is a part of this community, from Gladbrook to Reinbeck, to the rural towns all around the district. Every student here is important, and we're here to serve them."


Look for the full results from local elections, including the G-R dissolution, in this week's Grundy Register. Subscribe by calling (319) 824-6958 or clicking here.