Rushville Consolidated High School (RCHS) has dedicated a plaque to former art teacher Melvin D. Gray, who designed the school’s Senior Circle.
The plaque is displayed in the school’s lobby. In addition to designing the Senior Circle, Gray designed the Rush County Sesquicentennial Medallion and many book and flyer designs.
“Mr. Mel Gray’s creation of the Senior Circle and overall contributions to RCHS continue to ripple through time,” RCHS Principal Rob Hadley said. “The Senior Circle emblem is on our diplomas, a scholarship in his name is given through the Rush County Community Foundation and the people that he taught are influencing other people.”
Gray retired from RCHS in 1979.
The Senior Circle is an Italian Marble Mosaic, which is located at the entrance hall to RCHS and represents education in the Age of the Atom. The nucleus of the circle is a head and shoulders with electrons spinning around in their orbits.
The bottom of the circle is the Torch of Knowledge with a bright, burning flame. Symbols representing journalism and dramatics, the sciences, sports, music and the arts, the shop area and vocation programs, agriculture and homemaking continue around the circle.
Gray graduated from Rushville High School in 1940. He graduated from Butler University and John Herron Art Institute after high school.
He also served as a Communications Tech in the U.S. Army Air Corps 39th Fighter Squadron during World War II.
Gray was the President of the Indiana Arts Education Association. He founded the Rushville Creative Art Association and co-founded the Homer Arts Festival.
Gray passed away in 2014.
Principal Hadley said the RCHS Senior Circle isn’t the only legacy Gray left behind. The Rush County Community Foundation will award the Melvin D. Gray Art Scholarship for the first time in 2020.
Former long-time RCHS Athletic Director and current Rush County Historian John Wilson played a significant role in commemorating the plaque for Gray. He provided information and pictures of Gray for the plaque.
“I worry about our school history becoming lost over time and decided to have this plaque created. I get asked all the time about meaning and history of the Senior Circle,” Principal Hadley said. “I’m sure that the past stories of freshmen being thrown into Hodge’s Branch for walking on the Senior Circle are not completely true, but the mystique of the Senior Circle seems to have a special place in the history of our school and community. I would like to thank Mr. Gray’s relatives for the life, human impact and service of this great man.”