Bonny Keheley is this year’s recipient of the Barbara G. Ingram Citizen of the Year Award. Awarded by Preservation Woodstock Inc., the honor is given to someone who has been engaged actively in the preservation of Woodstock’s heritage and history. She will be honored during ceremonies at The Park at City Center following the Christmas parade on Dec. 1.
The award is named for Barbara Granger Ingram, a founding member and officer of the organization that planned and carried out a year-long series of centennial events and projects. Barbara’s death in late 1996 prompted the establishment of the award in 1997 to honor her memory, while recognizing the contributions made by others.
Keheley, the 22nd recipient, is retired after teaching 36 years. She was the face of historic preservation at Woodstock Elementary School. The tradition of an annual “history” walking field trip to the Woodstock Visitors Center at Historic Dean’s Store was her brainchild, a continuation of similar walks to the park that she began as a way to establish and enhance a sense of community, especially to the many newcomers to the area. Initially it involved second-graders, but later changed to third-graders.
The addition of two other “stations” on the field trip has made the event a full day of learning, as the students also visit the Chambers at City Center, where they learn about city government, and the park, where fire and police departments explain about their services. The history segment moves this year to the amphitheater, where students still will learn about the town’s history. It is estimated that more than 2,000 students have been introduced to Woodstock’s history through the efforts of Keheley and other faculty and staff. All departments, including art, music and social studies have added to the overall atmosphere that acknowledges the school’s history along with the city’s heritage.