School Grounds Facelift
"Yes, go for it" was all this group needed to get to work. For years, the soccer field has doubled as a path from the Grade school leading to the High school. On sunny days it's fine. When it rains and snows, the field becomes a swamp. The alternate route turns icy during Winter months.
We've made it work. But it could be better. Now it is.
MAKING IT WORK
Many of us remember our time in grade school, walking in a line over to lunch. It's a straight shot from one school to the other so dozens of little feet would wear down the grass path quickly. We would get dusty, but we didn't mind -- we were on our way to lunch!
Cue a rainy day. The swampy field mixed with young, energetic bodies is a muddy mess. Teachers would trudge their students the long way around, in between the church and Father's house. Everyone would be soaked but mud-free.
Then it would freeze. Winter in Kansas is cold and snowy with a chance of an ice storm. The soccer field would become a slosh pit so it must be avoided. The long way around seemed to be a good option except for the giant ice sheets that would inevitably form over the concrete.
With no good options on the table and hungry children, teachers carefully led their classes over the ice, encouraging careful steps on the patches of exposed concrete. Every now and then, the line leader would lose their footing and the line of first graders would tumble like dominos. Thankfully, everyone was protected by a puffy winter coat so they’d laugh while trying to help one another regain balance.
MAKING IT BETTER
Local Catholic school administrators have been aware of these problems and proposed a solution: resurfacing the field would prevent the flooding and installing concrete sidewalks would offer a safe path across the campus. While the school grounds were vacant in Spring 2020, administrators discerned it to be the proper time to get the ball rolling on these projects.
The Holy Spirit was at work because ideas to improve the school grounds were not only inspired in the school’s administrators.
At the same time, a gentleman by the name of Pat Ziegler was spearheading some Cornerstone work to remove a generations-old mobile classroom foundation north of the high school. While working, Mr. Ziegler began to wonder, “what would happen if we did a little dirt work to enhance the landscape of the grade school campus? With students at home, what long overdue projects could we get done this summer?”
As several interested parties observed Pat’s work, they walked over and struck up conversation. It didn’t take long for a game plan to develop addressing some long overdue projects. Once approved by parish and school officials, the work commenced.
It was this spirit of resolve, steadiness and faith that led to a significant face lift of the grade school grounds.
The process began by tearing up and resurfacing the grounds, which has recently tripled due to Cornerstone’s acquired properties. These lots are adjacent to the school grounds and made available for school and parish use.
All above ground obstructions were removed or repositioned. This included telephone poles, gas lines, internet cables, and telephone wiring. The telephone poles received a new lighting package to ensure a well-lit playground.
Hours of heavy lifting were completed by several families who, on six separate occasions, picked up exposed rock and rubbish. Cornerstone deeply appreciated the generosity of these families, and thanked them with an ice cream treat.
Parking spots were designated north of the high school to be available for honored senior supporters and those with a handicap.
Proper drainage was established through the resurfacing of the grounds. The drainage flow will be maintained in part by the newly planted buffalo grass and underground sprinklers bordering Main Street. Landscaping was added to enhance the overall appearance.
Concrete sidewalks were laid, which addressed a long-requested wish of the school.
A dignified wrought iron fence was installed bordering Main Street, keeping the school children protected from the road. Post rock pillars were interspersed to coordinate with the style of the church and school. Accent lighting will soon be installed to accentuate each pillar.
NEW AND IMPROVED
It was with eager anticipation that St. John’s staff and students embraced the first day school on August 20, 2020. They began in-person, full-time for the 142nd year of Catholic education in Beloit.
On the morning of August 20, 2020, families dropped their kids off for the first day of school. They were welcomed to a safer, well designed, newly expanded school campus where the spirit of stewardship speaks for itself. Local government, private businesses, families, and individuals offered their time and talent, while Cornerstone provided the treasure to make it happen.
Now that school is off to a great start, teachers and students can navigate safely (and mud-free) between schools. The land is ready for endless P.E. activities and recess games. Students on the playground, and the cars on Main street are kept to their designated areas by the fence. And all of this and more was made possible by your generosity toward Cornerstone Charitable Foundation. We incredibly grateful for your support!
And finally, for a project of this magnitude to be initiated and fruitfully concluded, an “all hands on deck” mindset was needed. So from the kids who picked up rocks to Beloit city officials, and everyone in between, we are grateful. A big THANK YOU to all, most especially Cornerstone for spearheading and coordinating the project.
Disclaimer: the Cornerstone projects described above were approved by the pastor, school council, finance council, parish council, and city of Beloit officials.