Prairie rocks. In more ways than one. But what's the deal with THE Rock?

Now almost five and half decades old, Prairie is a place filled with an ample collection of personalities. Rumors. Legends. Etc. And a recent conversation between a handful of TPS stalwarts uncovered a previously hidden…gem.

Earlier this fall, following the passing of Dave Drewek, the first TPS art teacher, current Art Chair Vicki Schmitz arranged a Zoom call with Pat Badger, Kevin and Chris Pearson, and Everett McKinney. (See page 44 of the recent issue of Prairie for a story about the call and Dave’s legacy at TPS.) The goal was to remember him in all his fearless, zany glory. And while that was accomplished in droves both hilarious and emotional, one impossible to ignore side story that emerged centered around Tony Fruhauf, Prairie’s Head of School for a few years in the early 1980s. (We’ll be taking a closer look at all of the school’s Heads later this 12 Days.)

Remembered as a strict, extremely buttoned-up sort of guy, the Upper School students – particularly the Class of 1981 – frequently took it upon themselves to help Mr. Fruhauf see the “lighter” side of life.

“In Tony’s office, he had this bowl of crystals and rocks,” remembers Pat Badger, Advisor to the Head of School for Arts and Equity. “And on the window ledge, he had this shelf arranged with three rocks, two crystals. Three rocks, two crystals. It was a very arranged thing. So when that class graduated, on a table near the diplomas was a fishbowl. And when each graduate passed, they dropped a rock in the bowl. Then, they presented the big rock as their senior gift. And it’s still there.”

In the spring of 1981 conditions were perfect for its delivery. Someone had a contact at the Racine quarry on 3 Mile Road. The purchase of the mammoth hunk of limestone was made. A couple of seniors with a lawn care business had the ability to help transport it to school.

And whether the delivery of the giant boulder was more class gift or class prank – or a genius combination of both – one thing can’t be disputed: the rock’s irrefutable – and immovable – place in Prairie history.


“The people make Prairie, Prairie.”

It’s one of Dr. Coffman’s favorite sayings. And during a semester that looks much different than in years past, never has this been more apparent.

This has always been a school focused on building relationships. From mentors impacting mentees, to colleagues learning from one another, to big and little buddies bonding across divisions, ours is a school committed to knowing, valuing, supporting and challenging each other.

During this year’s 12 Days of Giving, we will introduce you to a few more People of Prairie, and look forward to sharing some of the relationships that help define our community. You can support this year’s 12 Days of Giving campaign and help grow inspiration and creativity all across campus with a gift to the Prairie Fund.