The Greenville LEAD Takes on Phillis Wheatley
L – Leaders for E- Excellence A – Action and D – Determination
The Greenville LEAD Team is taking on the challenge of helping in the renovation the Phillis Wheatley Community Center. GTCHS has just signed a lease agreement with the board of directors of this center to be used next year for PE classes, sports events, and visual and performing arts classes. The gymnasium and stage will also be used for school events and performances. As part of this project students will be keeping a written and digital/video log of their work.
Our school is on the campus of a large technical college and we do not have ready access to a gymnasium, track or stage. We also need more class rooms. At present time we only offer on Art class. Last fall our school was offered the possibility of using a neighborhood community center for our PE and Gym needs as well as possible Fine Arts classes and performances.
The old community center had been partially abandoned and is becoming an environmental hazard. Weeds and briars have begun taking over the community garden area, the children’s playground, the track and walkways to these areas. The interior has been terribly neglected. The wall and windows need cleaning and painting as there is a lot of graffiti all around. Some windows need to be replaced and floors need to be sanded and cleaned. The bathrooms and locker rooms need scrubbing and some fixtures need to be replaced. Showers need new curtains and the lockers need thorough cleaning and painting. All of the lights inside and out need to be replaced. The whole building needs a face lift.
Lack of local money and interest started the decline of this community center. When it was build 40 years ago, Community Development and HUD money was available for the building of this center in a low income, inner-city area, as well as money for a large variety of daytime, after school, evening and weekend programs for the community. Over the past 10 years less and less money has been available for upkeep and programs.
Permission to use the facility was worked out between Greenville Tech Charter High School and the Philiss Wheatley Board of Directors. We had to have the Fire Marshall’s okay to help with the renovations.
Renovating the Phillis Wheatley Community Center for athletics and the arts instruction is a great bonus for our school. For the past eleven years we have had to go to the YMCA for all of our indoor PE classes and sports practices. We’ve had to play our ‘home’ games at school gyms around the county. This has been very expensive, as we had to pay rent to these facilities, and it’s been time consuming to drive back and forth to the YMCA every period. We have limited access to the college auditorium, which has the only stage on campus. Our auditorium is too small to have an all-school assembly, so we have to have two assemblies to accommodate everyone. We also don’t have enough classroom space for PE and Art classes. The new center has many classrooms available to us. We’re also clearing the grounds at the new center. There is currently a very dilapidated children’s playground and community garden. We will be fund raising for new out door equipment for the playground and building a ‘raised bed’ vegetable and fruit garden at the center. The neighborhood will continue to have access to the community center, gym/auditorium, playground and garden. This will be as much theirs as it will be ours to use.
GTCHS will be using the building every school day, most evenings for sports or the arts, and weekends for games and performances; so it will be safer for the neighborhood to have a daily presence of students and adults, rather than an empty building easily broken into.
No one will be negatively affected by our project and presence there.
Greenville Tech Charter High School made a long term lease agreement with the Philliss Wheatley Center last fall. However, with limited budgets, neither party could afford the ‘man/woman hours needed to clean, painting, and landscaping and generally beautify the building and grounds. This was a perfect project for the Greenville LEAD and our Student leadership Initiative. We have a class hour every day and an hour and a half on alternating Fridays to work under the guidance of Mr. Tony Wallace, the renovations coordinator. We really don’t have any forces against us.
Our major resources at present time are cleaning supplies and gardening tools. We are applying for grants and are doing fund raising to buy plans and seeds. Cleaning supplies are made available to us at no cost.
Our allies are the coaches at our school, the administration at both our school and at the Community Center, and the people in the neighborhood who see us cleaning the grounds and making it a nicer and safer place for their children to play. Our only detractors are those who keep throwing their trash into the bushes and areas behind the center. We think they will eventually stop leaving trash once our classes in PeE and the Arts are taught there everyday and the sports teams are there every afternoon and evenings. We just need to convince everyone in the neighborhood to take pride in this great center.
We committed to be responsible for keeping the center up as a place where our students and the neighborhood can have activities daytime and nighttime and be safe. We hope to build pride and ownership for the students and community towards the center, playground and garden.
This project will continue as the Greenville LEAD project each year or will become a community service project for our Student Government.
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