When Scottsburg Middle School sixth-grade student Andie Myers found out she would be carrying the Indiana Bicentennial Torch, she was more than thrilled with the news.
“I was super excited,” Myers said. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!’ I was so excited.”
Weeks before, Myers learned her grandmother nominated her to carry the torch. Despite the glowing nomination, Myers thought her chances of being chosen was a long shot.
“I was shocked I got picked. I never thought I would get picked,” Myers said.
Then, Myers received the email confirming she was chosen. She called her family to tell them the good news, and her family held a cookout in her honor.
“It was really cool,” Myers said.
As the day came to carry the Bicentennial Torch, Myers became increasingly nervous.
“My stomach was upset. I was super nervous,” Myers said.
She said she kept imagining that she would drop the torch or the torch’s flame would go out while she walked by her former elementary school, Johnson Elementary School.
But, none of that happened.
Instead, Myers took the torch from the Rev. Steve Gwaltney of Grace Covenant Church and his wife, Pam, at the stoplight in Austin — at the intersection of U.S. 31 and State Road 256. Myers rode on a fire truck for the nearly six-mile drive before arriving at JES.
“It was really a ‘wow’ moment. I was most excited when I got to light the torch. It was amazing,” Myers said.
Myers stepped off the fire truck and walked passed her former elementary school, where teachers and students — including her younger brother — were lined along the street and cheering for her.
“I was so happy and proud. That was my favorite part — I have a lot of friends still at Johnson. I was so happy and glad. I got to see all my teachers and friends,” Myers said.
After carrying the Bicentennial Torch, Myers went to the after celebration at the Scott County Courthouse. There, she heard the stories of other torchbearers and listened to their experiences.
“It was really amazing to hear their point-of-view,” Myers said. “It was really inspirational.”
Now, Myers thinks about her once-in-a-lifetime moment as an Indiana Bicentennial torchbearer. She said it is one of her greatest achievements next to the citizenship award and Presidential award she received last year at a fifth-grade student.
“I’m really proud. It was really a big deal — that I was part of history. It was a big honor,” Myers said.
Like Myers, Scottsburg High School freshman Landon Campbell carried the Indiana Bicentennial Torch passed his school.
When he found out he would be carrying the Indiana Bicentennial Torch, he was speechless.
“I didn’t know what to think,” Campbell said. “I found out four weeks before it happened. My mom just told me.”
The hours leading up to the torch coming to Scott County, Campbell said he was excited about his short walk — less than one-half mile — from the exit of the SHS parking lot to Lon’s Donuts.
“I was kind of happy I got to do it. It was exciting,” Campbell said.
With the lawn along U.S. 31 lined with SHS students and staff members, Campbell was passed the torch from Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame member and legendary SHS Basketball Coach Jim Barley.
The 92-county torch relay was created to commemorate the state’s bicentennial. Torchbearers pass the torch to connect all generations of Hoosiers, young and old.
“It meant a lot. I was glad I got to do it,” Campbell said.
The 2016 Indiana Bicentennial Torch was designed by a team of engineering students, staff, and faculty at Purdue University, and the design was inspired by the Indiana State Flag. The torch is 23.5 inches tall and is eight inches in diameter at its largest point, and it only weighs 3.5 pounds. The torch uses Indiana-made E-85 fuel to keep its flame continuously lit. The torch also has technology inside, including a GPS for real-time positioning and tracking, wi-fi connectivity, replaceable and rechargeable Li-ion batteries, and a high-definition camera for photos and videos connected to social media.
“It wasn’t hard at all,” Campbell said about carrying the nearly two-feet tall torch. “A lot of people told me I did a good job. The energy from the crowd — that was pretty cool.”
Like Campbell, Barley was surprised how many people in the community and from SHS were there to support the torchbearers and to see the Bicentennial Torch pass through Scott County.
“I didn’t think there’d be that many people,” Barley said. “The high school students were real responsive to the torch-carrying.”
Barley has a long history with SHS as the head Scottsburg Warriors basketball coach for 13 years, from 1965 to 1978. He came back in 1991 to be the boys basketball team’s assistant coach until 1997. While he was the head coach, the Scottsburg Warriors had one of its most successful winning streaks, including the undefeated record of the 1969 team. The 1969 team set a state team scoring record of 90 points per game. He was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005.
“It was a real honor and a privilege to be chosen,” Barley said. “It was handled with a lot of class.”
Barley carried the Bicentennial Torch from First Christian Church shelter house on U.S. 31 to the front of SHS before passing it to Campbell. Barley was given the Bicentennial Torch from retired Scott County School District 2 employee and former Scottsburg mayor Ed Cozart.
“To get it from an old friend and give it to a real, nice young man made it nicer too,” Barley said. “I enjoyed myself. It was a real joyful experience.”
The torch will cover about 3,200 miles during its five-week period. The last day of the relay is Oct. 15, and the torch will make its last stop in Indianapolis at the Statehouse with a welcome ceremony and celebration.