On December 19, 2018, Governor John Kasich signed Senate Bill 86 into law. Section 5.074 of this bill reads, “The barn, an agricultural building located on farms and used for many purposes, is hereby designated the official historical architectural structure of the state.” This happened because of the hard work and perseverance put forth by a group of students and teachers from Genoa Middle School.
The process started five years ago when pupils at Genoa were given an assignment to propose a new symbol for the State of Ohio. One group of seventh grade girls took this challenge and ran with it, ultimately creating a bill that would eventually make it all the way to the governor’s desk. The team consisted of Anna Borders, Sarah Gellner, and Rachel Kaufman (who are now 11th graders at Westerville Central High School), along with Adriane Thompson (who attends Wellington School.)
The girls came up with the idea that the barn should be designated as the Buckeye State’s official historical architectural structure. In time, their school assignment evolved into a passion. With the support of Representative Anne Gonzalez, who brought their idea before the Ohio House as a bill, the students began a long and sometimes frustrating journey.
As the years went by, they learned a lot about the legislative process. While the Barn Bill was moved, passed around, changed, argued and stalled, the girls grew up and moved on from middle school. But they never lost their drive. They led the charge to get it passed by performing extensive research, creating a website and a twitter feed, conducting surveys to create data in support of their idea, writing letters, speaking at Ohio Statehood Day, and pleading their case many times before committees at the Ohio House of Representative and Senate. With the help of their teachers, Caley Nestor Baker and Debbie Pellington, and the support of their parents, these students were finally rewarded for their efforts.
Pellington and Nestor Baker said the passage of this bill is a great achievement for these young women and a testament to their work ethic, dedication, and passion. Students received from them a special Christmas ornament for their trees last month, one they will likely keep forever and one that will always hold special meaning. It was, of course, a barn.