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Monday, May 2, 2016

Giraffe watches over elementary school

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Ivy Herron photos

Left: "You cannot reach your goals unless you first stretch your imagination," is symbolized by the newest resident on Meridian Street. On Dec. 16, Stretch Meridian was given a new home outside of Meridian Elementary School because of donations raised by students, staff members and a local business.

Right Top: Completely fascinated, Elaine Clarke's first-grade students Logan Wilson, Mason Hensley, Austin Huey and Gracie Shoemaker braved snow flurries to watch Stretch come home.

Right Bottom: Members of the Clay Community School Corporation maintenance department and employees from Rick Woolery Tree Trimming set Stretch in place in concrete footers.

There's a new resident in town, and she's been named "Stretch Meridian" by the children at Meridian Elementary School.

When Stretch's home in Terre Haute was recently demolished to make way for a new business, the giraffe's future was unsure.

Stretch stood watch over many miniature golf games between families, friends and couples, many of which were out for their first date, for years at the Putt Putt Miniature Golf Course located in the Riverside Plaza. But when Thompson-Thift bought the land for redevelopment, Stretch was no longer needed.

Just what do you do with a 16-foot tall giraffe?

When the staff and students of Meridian Elementary found out about the giraffe, they knew exactly what to do.

Giraffes are one of the most interesting and amazing creatures from Africa, and they are a symbol for the students at the school.

Zoologists, excited to learn about the creature's height, beauty and other unique characteristics, discovered that the long neck of the giraffe makes life incredibly difficult. Walking and even while stretching its long neck for a drink or to eat, a giraffe is taking a risk with it's life.

With an "OK" from Building and Grounds Director Tom Reberger, the school arranged for the giraffe to have a new home, but Stretch was going to cost $1,500. The students at Meridian Elementary are encouraged to take risks to achieve excellence, and they were willing to take a risk to bring Stretch home.

The members of student council donated $900, and a "Giraffe Wall" was created to raise the rest of the money from donations. Anyone who wanted to donate could place a paper giraffe cut-out on the wall. A white paper giraffe was used for donations up to $5, silver for $10, gold for $20 and for those donating $100, Eddies Sandwich Shop and Delia Pierce, an extra large look-a-like giraffe was placed on the board.

While the donations poured in, the giraffe was retrieved from her perch at the golf course, carefully loaded onto a flat bed trailer and taken to Lloyd and Lana Hendrix's house. The couple and their son Carson scrubbed away the years of weathered grime before painting the giraffe.

With a new makeover, Stretch was brought to the school corporation's transportation garage at 212 N. Colfax to wait while footers were poured by school corporation workers in preparation of her new home.

On Dec. 16, Stretch Meridian took her place outside the front door of the elementary school, with a little help from the school corporation's maintenance department.

"You cannot reach your goals unless you first stretch your imagination is our motto around here," Meridian Elementary Secretary/Treasurer Michelle Kibbe told The Brazil Times. "Stretch Meridian is a symbol of that spirit."

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