An iconic sign on County Road 144 cheering on the Center Grove High School sports teams is getting a fresh look.

For more than four decades, drivers heading along 144 near the Smokey Row Road intersection could see a message painted on a barn saying, “Center Grove Trojans Are Dyn-o-mite.”

But the bright red paint had faded to an orange hue in the years since Meresa Girdley and her cousin, Russell Baker, had painted the letters when they were seniors at the Center Grove High School in 1975.

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Supporting the Trojan sports teams — at the time basketball was the major draw — was a community affair, Girdley said.

Residents decorated their houses and lawns with signs and flags, and students even painted messages on a couple of barns, including the barn still standing along County Road 144, a couple miles east of State Road 37, she said.

The phrase “Dyn-o-mite” was taken from the sitcom “Good Times,” which aired from 1974 to 1979. The word was a catchphrase of one of the characters, Girdley said.

On Tuesday morning, a group of students from Center Grove High School worked alongside Girdley to repaint the message with a fresh coat of red paint.

“It’s cool to bring it back to life,” Center Grove junior Jackson Norman, 17, said.

Across the Center Grove area, the Johnson County and the southside of Indianapolis, several hundred Center Grove High School students volunteered as part of the school’s 20th annual Day of Caring, performing chores and tasks for a variety of nonprofit and community organizations.

Girdley said she was excited to be able to pass along the tradition to another generation of students.

She and her cousin had received permission 42 years ago to paint the message from Forest Stewart, who owned the barn. Stewart’s daughters, Pam Bundy and Nancy Lay, now own the property.

Seeing the students repaint the barn brought back a lot of memories, Bundy said.

“It’s nice to know that people still care,” she said.

While he had noticed the sign before, Center Grove junior Cameron Moore, 17, said he hadn’t know about its history, but was glad to become part of it.

“It makes me feel like part of the community,” Moore said.

At the White River Township Fire Department headquarters, 20 students washed fire vehicles and windows and packed supplies for the fire prevention classes firefighters will be bringing to elementary schools.

Fall is a busy time for the department due to training, so having the students get tasks done for them is a major time saver, life safety officer Craig Zollars said.

Center Grove junior Dustin Hensman, 16, is interested in training to become a firefighter and said getting an up-close look at the department and its equipment was a neat experience.

Being able to give back to people who spend their time protecting the community is important, Center Grove junior Isaiah Huckl, 16, said.

At Crabapple Creek Country Day School in the Center Grove area, 18 students worked to spread a fresh layer of mulch across a sprawling playground, while other students helped the preschool students plant flowers along the playground fence.

“It feels good to be helping out,” Center Grove junior Jessie Beaver, 16, said.

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Jacob Tellers is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2702.