Dowagiac Area History Museum to close fall lecture series Dec. 5

DOWAGIAC — It has been said that good schools are the foundation of a good community.

For at least one local historian, that is true, which is why the Dowagiac Area History Museum will host a presentation centering on Dowagiac’s education system next month.

The Dowagiac Area History Museum will close out its fall lecture series in December with a presentation on the founding and history of the Dowagiac Union School district. The presentation, which will take place at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 5, is titled “A History of Dowagiac Schools from A to Z.” The lecture will be presented by Mike Frazier, of Dowagiac, a former principal at Dowagiac Middle School.

“It starts at the origin of the schools in the 1850s when the first idea for a public school came up in Michigan, and it will take us all the way to the present-day renovations at our schools,” Frazier said of his presentation. “The history of the schools can sometimes be forgotten or bushed over. … It’s a good time to consolidate that information and update it.”

As Museum Director Steve Arseneau has been wanting to host a presentation about Dowagiac schools for years, he said he was excited that Frazier was on board with adding the topic to the 2018 fall lecture series.

“I finally asked the right person to do it,” Arseneau said. “[Frazier] will be telling his history of the schools.”

When he was approached by Arseneau about doing a presentation on Dowagiac Union Schools, Frazier said he was immediately intrigued due to his history both as a Dowagiac graduate and former principal of the middle school. He said he relied on his own personal knowledge of the schools and research from the history museum to prepare his presentation.

“That was really helpful in getting pictures and information from the 1860s up until the 1920s,” Frazier said.

Though Frazier said he did not want to tip his hand and give away all the material of his presentation prior to Dec. 5, he did say that he learned several things about Dowagiac schools that he did not know before when he was researching and preparing for his lecture. For example, he said he learned a great deal about the founding of the schools during his research, which he called “fascinating.”

“I don’t want to spoil anything, but it was very grassroots,” Frazier said.

Arseneau said he was excited to hear Frazier’s presentation and that he believes it will be a fitting end to the museum’s 2018 fall lecture series.

“[This season] we have had some really quality programs, and everyone did a really great job,” Arseneau said. “Over the years, I have found that people really enjoy local topics, which is part of the reason I really wanted to have something about the schools. I really think people will like it and that it will be well attended.”

Arseneau is already working on the schedule for the spring 2019 lecture series, which will begin in March. He said he believes that the lecture series put on by the Dowagiac Area History Museum is beneficial for residents of Dowagiac to attend.

“Beyond the educational aspect, it is a good social outing,” Arseneau said. “It’s a good way for community members to come out and interact and learn some new things.”

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