A leveling of the cornerstone ceremony was conducted by the Masonic Lodge on Jan. 17 at the new Alvarado Intermediate School.

In attendance were city dignitaries, members of the school board, the superintendent of schools, teachers, parents, students and a large group of Masons.

The leveling of the cornerstone ceremony, a symbolic ritual that dates back more than 300 years, is traditionally done on public buildings such as schools, government buildings, libraries and churches.

The ceremony is done to ensure that the cornerstone or first block of a building is correctly laid.

The ceremony in Alvarado, presided over by past Grand Master Donny Broughton, is basically the same ceremony as has been used in Europe to dedicate cathedrals and other historic buildings.

The ceremony opened with the pledge of allegiance and the Texas pledge, followed by a prayer. 

“A building must rest upon a firm foundation,” said Gary Dixon, who participated in the ceremony.

Broughton said the Masons were originally an operative guild but are now a fraternal order.

“The Masons is not a religious organization, but a group of religious men who believe in God,” he said. “Our philosophy is to make a good man better. We have many traditions that we are proud of. We are proud of our heritage and we vow not to be contentious toward others.

“We are big supporters of the education system and statistics show that a good education does lead to a successful life,” he said.

A grand master or his representative performs the ceremony, which has been done in the United States since 1734.

Once the level of the cornerstone of the school was determined, it was anointed with corn, oil and wine.  The grand master then presented the level, plumb and square to a representative of the architect of the school.

With the ceremony, the Masons expressed their hope that all who see the stone at this school will remember the Supreme Architect of the Universe.

Past grand masters who have performed such ceremonies include George Washington who, on Sept. 18, 1793, leveled the cornerstone of the Capitol building in Washington, and Benjamin Franklin, who leveled the cornerstone of Independence Hall in Philadelphia in 1734.

Many former presidents were Masons as were many who signed the Declaration of Independence. There are about 100,000 Masons in Texas and many historical figures from the state’s past have been Masons.

Scottish Rite Hospitals in Dallas and Atlanta have advanced medical centers for treatment of children  – both supported by Masons.

Once the ceremony was completed, Alvarado ISD Superintendent Chester Juroska and board president Linda Neeley led those in attendance – including board members Kelly Price, secretary; Tom Head, vice president; Chris Ratliff, Ted Dossey and David Jusiewicz – on a tour of the facility.