Berea-Midpark’s Tree of Knowledge ready for its close-up: Around The Town


BEREA, Ohio – The Tree of Knowledge, a sculpture that adorned the Bagley Road facade of the former Berea High School for nearly half a century, can now be viewed on foot and up close, showing it is a fascinating work of art acts.

In April, after more than a year of restoration work by Austin Finishing Co., the 15-foot by 10-foot cast metal work by Robert Fillous — a 1935 graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art — was reinstalled at ground level on the east wall of the new Performing Arts Wing building of the Berea-Midpark High School.

Keith Berr, a member of the Berea High School Alumni Association who led the sculpture’s restoration, said the goal was to restore the artwork “which had been exposed to the elements (and birds) for about 50 years.”

Cast aluminum elements of the sculpture represent art, math, science, humanities and history while paying tribute to significant Ohio locations including NASA’s Glenn Research Center, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and the Rocky River.

A convenience that the sculpture and those who view it can now enjoy is the fact that the piece now stands under a protective structural overhang, providing some protection from rain, snow (and birds) to both.

A New Name: The Veterans Outreach Office, established in 2018 by Berea Mayor Cyril Kleem to serve the city’s large veteran population, has grown over the years to include veterans and their families across the region. It is renamed the Northern Ohio Veterans Association.

“Lead by Chaplain Willie Springer, a Vietnamese Army veteran, and with the support of many veterans and community members, we are providing emotional and spiritual support in nursing homes and hospices,” Kleem said.

He said the Veterans Office provides the same services wherever they are needed, including in people’s homes.

“We regularly host support groups in multiple locations and hold events to honor the volunteers.”

According to Springer, the office served 2,310 veterans and their families in 2022. Berea was named a Purple Heart City for his support of veterans.

Springer was recently appointed chaplain to the Cuyahoga County Joint Veterans Council and is chaplain to the Cuyahoga County Veterans Court.

Kudos: Rohith Banna from Middleburg Heights graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the University of the Cumberlands.

Banna is among more than 2,100 graduates who celebrated the completion of their bachelor’s or master’s degree in Cumberlands this spring.

He’s a Winner: Michael Braley, a graduate of Berea-Midpark High School, recently earned a gold medal in the Garde Manger category at the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) regional culinary competition at the Cuyahoga Community College Hospitality Management Center in downtown Cleveland.

At this event, Graley had 60 minutes to present his interpretation of three cold appetizers.

His award-winning creation consisted of tuna poke with a chili garlic shallot sauce and shaved watermelon radish, an Asian noodle salad with miso teriyaki vinaigrette and spicy Thai peanuts, and small cucumber cups filled with edamame hummus.

That year, hundreds of students from across Ohio attended state events. FCCLA sponsors regional, state, and national competitions for students enrolled in family and consumer science programs.

The competitions offer students the opportunity to demonstrate their technical talents and skills.

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SCAN Hunger Center Pantry: 39 W. Bagley Road, Williamsport Plaza. 440-260-7226. Open on the second Friday of the month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on the fourth Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Church Street Ministries Pantry: 1480 Bagley Road, 440-239-0549. Open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 12pm to 2pm.

Rise in Love: Complimentary hot meal 2-4pm on the third Sunday of each month at St. Adalbert Catholic Church, Keller Center, 66 Adalbert St. Eat in or take out. The next meal is on May 21st.

Complimentary Congregational Meals: St. Paul Lutheran Church, 276 E. Bagley Road, served 2nd and last Wednesday of the month from 5pm to 6pm. Drive up only.

People’s Community Church Pantry: 628 Wesley Drive, 440-234-0609. Open every third Saturday of the month from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. The next open pantry is May 20th.

Second Mile Outreach Pantry: 1480 Bagley Road, 440-239-0549. Open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 12pm to 2pm.

Bread Ministry: Berea United Methodist Church, 170 Seminary St. 440-234-3525. Bread and pastries only. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 12pm to 2pm. Go to the Church Annex north of Church Street, off the Seminary. The pantry has brown double doors.

Free Student Meals: Brook Park Branch Library, 6155 Engle Road. 3:30pm to 4:30pm, Monday to Friday, for students 18 and under, in association with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.

Pet Food Pantry: Animal Rescue Friends, 10015 E. River Road, Columbia Station, every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. For more information, call 440-234-2034 or

Mini-Pantries: There are two Little Free Pantries near the People’s Community Church at 628 Wesley Drive and the Berea Branch of the Cuyahoga County Library at 7 Berea Commons. The Prospect Pantry is located on the corner of Prospect Street and Jacqueline Drive.

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