Community Spotlight

Celebrating five years with a look back at some of our favorite community success stories.

Article by Amanda Stout

Photography by Cathy Lyons, Mark Lyons, April Sova, Jenna Beers, Provided

Originally published in Mason & Deerfield Lifestyle

History in the Making 

Over the past five years, we’ve had the honor of helping people throughout Mason and Deerfield tell the stories of their accomplishments and everyday lives. From the lively art scene and world-class parks and recreation to the ambitious, close-knit school community, we have watched the area continue to thrive and grow. 

In 2022 we featured an article about the Mason Historical Society, which is a great place to learn how Mason grew from a humble village to the city it is today. In addition to maintaining the Alverta Green Museum, which houses many treasured Mason artifacts and documents, they’ve been busy keeping history alive for the community. 

Some of their efforts include the annual Cemetery Walk at Rose Hill Cemetery where Mason Community Players act as people from Mason's history, their annual Ice Cream Social & Baked Goods auction with Auctioneer Gene Steiner, and their monthly newsletter developed by Gina Arens and Sally Sherman Caudill, sharing interesting stories from Mason's history.

They also present special talks like the Fatal Flight program, about the military plane that crashed near Mason in the 1950s. They will feature a new program next April.   “We will have a program on the 50th anniversary of the 1974 Mason tornado. This will include firsthand accounts of the tornado hitting neighborhoods and businesses,” shares Jay Miebers, Mason Historical Society president. 

The Arts 

We’ve highlighted many vibrant stories from the arts community in Mason and Deerfield. Everything from public art like the Wings of Mason and Angel Alley murals to performances by Acting Up, Mason Dance Center, the ROYAL Theatre Company and the Mason Symphony Orchestra. We learned about the formation of the Mason Arts Council and exciting plans for a Regional Arts Center. Arts programs, classes, and work by local artisans have also found a place to shine within our pages.  

One of the busiest supporters of the arts is the Arts Alliance, led by Meredith Raffel. Meredith explains, “Thanks to the Arts Alliance’s relationship with Deerfield Township trustees and administration, the partnership and the programming have grown significantly in the past five years.”  

Some of the engaging programs that the Arts Alliance has provided to the community include the return of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, which brought 4,000 guests to Cottell Park, Deerfield Handmade Markets which welcome makers to sell their wares three times a year and unique classes and camps for children. 

Free Sounds of Deerfield concerts, held at Cottell Park over the summer, have also grown from three concerts to seven in the past two years. This year will see the addition of Little Sounds of Deerfield at Kingswood Park, geared toward kids of all ages, featuring music and art making.  

Parks & Recreation

Living in the Mason and Deerfield communities offers amazing access to some of the best parks and recreation in the region. One such gem is Mason’s Makino Park, home to the inclusive Common Ground Playground. We spoke with Mason Parks & Recreation Foundation President, Rachel Kopfler in August 2018 and again in 2020 when the park was about to open. Rachel shepherded the project, but it was a true community effort with support from the city, corporations and individuals. 

Mason City manager Eric Hansen told us at the time of the opening, “I always come back to the name, Common Ground, folks with different needs and abilities come together and make each other stronger. It’s a great message for the community.”

Also soon to be a part of Makino Park are two adaptive ball fields that will make it possible for players of all abilities to play baseball without barriers. We’ve been following the project with the Mason Challenger League which celebrated its 10th season in 2022. They are working closely with the City of Mason and the Mason Parks & Recreation Foundation on the capital campaign to raise $2.1 million. Board member and Public Relations Director Jennifer Christmas says, “These fields will allow us to expand our league even more and allow our athletes to improve their baseball skills without any impediments.” 

The addition of the 50-meter indoor pool at the Mason Aquatic Center also supports local athletes, the Mason Manta Rays. Kelly Anchrum, an A Matter of 50 Meters committee member, shares, “My favorite memory is the preview we hosted in December 2021 for community members who supported A Matter of 50 Meters. The awe and joy on the faces of swim parents, alumni swimmers, active swimmers and other community residents were well worth the fundraising.” 

Deerfield Township has continued to invest in Kingswood Park. This includes a new pavilion which is home to the Deerfield Farmers’ Market, as well as the re-development of the former maintenance building into an Activity Center and the creation of a new playground with a unique Ninja Course. As we highlighted in our July 2021 issue, Deerfield Township also partnered with the Cincinnati Nature Center to increase plant diversity and improve the natural habitat for wildlife in Kingswood Park. 

Trustee President Lelle Hedding explains, “It is a pleasure to see Kingswood Park get the attention it deserves.” She adds, “Our residents had a vision, and the Board of Trustees made it a reality.”  

Mason City Schools & Mason Schools Foundation 

Covering the many talented administrators, teachers and students at Mason City Schools (MCS) has always been an inspiring experience. In fact, our first August issue in 2018 included an article about the Mason Schools Foundation (MSF) and  Dr. Jonathan Cooper, who at the time was just starting as MCS superintendent and CEO. 

We learned about students excelling in their activities, like Mason High School (MHS) Chess Master Jason Wang, student scientist and researcher, Laalitya Acharya, and the national champs of the MHS Science Olympiad. We followed star athletes such as basketball players, Sammie Puisis and Megan Wagner, and swimmer and Mason Marching Band member Steven Habra. During this time, the MHS Girls' Tennis team (including two-time state champ Shyla Aggarwal) also became Ohio Division I champs six times. 

We loved talking to Mason students about their efforts to make a difference. Groups like The Giving Girls started by Maddie Evers and Elise Tong, Environment Plus founded by Claire and Katherine Hu, and Mason Girl Scout Troop 44405, keepers of the Comet Cupboard. We admired individuals like Jiahao Guo who founded the Coronavirus Relief Project and Ahan Prasad, who donated proceeds from his custom cake business to MSF. 

We were impressed with the district's commitment to supporting the mental health of their community, which we learned about from MCS Mental Wellness Supervisor, Nicole Pfirman and the MHS student-led HOPE Squad. 

MCS Public Information Officer, Tracey Carson says, “Over the past five years, the district has invested heavily into mental health resources for all learners – including therapy dogs in each building.” 

Many of the MCS projects and people we spotlighted in Mason + Deerfield Lifestyle have ties to the Mason Schools Foundation, whose innovative programs we’ve also showcased. MSF Board Member Danita Enouen, shares, “We loved highlighting ‘Donations in Action’ in the magazine last year where every month we shared a photo of an MSF grant project at each of the five buildings in the district.” 

The past six months MCS has engaged students, staff, families and the community in crafting a vision for what learning will look like in Mason in 2030. We look forward to continuing to share all of the fascinating ideas the entire Mason and Deerfield Township communities will dream up over the next five years and beyond!

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