BURBANK — Wayne Hawley and his daughter, Joyce Hawley, can't help but feel they are being watched as they walk through the Burbank School.
The walls are lined with photos from decades of classes. The pictures contain the faces of former students and teachers. Other photos are filled with pictures of family reunions for current and former Burbank families.
The school which lies in the Vermillion district opened in 1921 as District 10 and closed around 1970. However, it still provides an important function as a community center.
"We have had weddings, anniversaries, reunions and memorials held here," Joyce said. "We have had benefits for people with cancer and other medical bills."
Peter Rabbit has even paid a visit to the Burbank school.
"Dexter Jorgensen organizes the giant Easter Egg hunt, and we had 127 kids at one time," Joyce said.
The building remains in good shape, but its age is showing. A barbecue and auction will be held Saturday at the school to raise funds for the school's renovation.
The Hawleys helped start a foundation and are organizing Saturday's fundraiser. The money will be used for heating, air conditioning and plumbing.
"We have 4-H kids, and their clubs have grown so big that they can‚t meet in homes anymore," Joyce said. "They want to meet in the old school, and we want to make the repairs needed to keep it open year-round."
The Hawleys know firsthand the building's shortcomings.
"My niece was married (at the school) in February, and they didn't have water," Wayne said.
Saturday's fundraiser opens with a car and tractor show and shine at 4 p.m. The event is for show, not competition, with a dash plaque provided to the first 100 entries.
A pork loin barbecue supper begins at 5 p.m., with an auction starting around 6 p.m. The auction items will be on display in the school. The auctioneer will then ride on a flatbed trailer outside the building, with items handed to him through the window.
"For the auction, we have donated items from the whole area," Wayne said. "We have things coming from Yankton, Vermillion, Sioux City and Beresford."
The items include gift certificates, two bikes, snowblowers, grills, afghans, quilts, oil changes, an motel stay, haircuts and even a buff and wax.
In addition, a raffle will be held for a 32-inch LCD flat screen television.
From its very beginning, the Burbank school has relied on generosity.
Nelson Cusick, who died in 1889, gave the land for the school. The Cusick family donated $2,910 collected during a 2007 reunion.
On display is a September 2007 check with ties to a special donor. Billionaire Warren Buffett, the "Oracle of Omaha," donated $10,000 of the $18,000 needed to refinish the school‚s roof.
"Sylvia Lynch, who lives around here, worked with Warren Buffett's sister," Wayne said. "Warren's foundation donated the money."
The school's history is one of both joy and struggle.
"They tried to close down the school years ago, but I'm a diehard and fought to keep it open," Wayne said. "Finally, they sold the school to Fairview Township Board for $1. The township still owns it."
The school, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, resembles a museum with its wealth of memorabilia. One sign noted that gas cost 22 cents a gallon in 1921.
One school room houses the stage, where a curtain contained the logos of area businesses. The school enrolled grades K-10.
The Hawley family holds a special connection to the school. Wayne attended through ninth grade, and he and his wife, JoAnn, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at the school in 2004. JoAnn passed away in September 2008.
Besides Joyce, their children include Mark, Larry and the late Calvin.
"This school has been part of my family all of our lives," Joyce said.
Joyce has a "to do" list of repairs she would like for the school. However, one goal remains at the top of the list.
"The bell was taken down, and now it's in the front yard of the school," she said. "Some day, we want to put the bell tower back up. Then, we can say the school is finished."