By Ryan Ottney
October 2, 2013
Ryan Scott Ottney
PDT Staff Writer
The courtyard at the center of Portsmouth Elementary School is supposed to be a place for students and teachers to participate in outdoor programs, but when teacher Susan Gray looked at it earlier this year all she saw was an overgrown mess. Now, with the help of some volunteers and donated materials, the courtyard is looking beautiful and ready for students once again.
“The school was supposed to maintain it, but with budget cuts it just didn’t get done. And it’s not out there where everyone can see it. It’s kind of secluded, but it was really in bad shape,” Gray said.
She began calling area businesses for donations and bringing volunteers to help clean the courtyard. Portsmouth Feed on Second Street donated 20 bags of mulch, and volunteers from Scioto Ribber, Shawnee Mental Health, and North American Refractories came to help clean. She called Lowes in Wheelersburg next, hoping to purchase material for a discounted cost. She said she was really just in the right place at the right time.
“When I took pictures up there to show the manager, he said, ‘Y’know, we do a once-a-year Heroes Program and your project sounds more doable than what we had planned on, and I’m really interested in doing something for the schools.’ So he looked at the pictures and submitted them to corporate and did our project instead of the one they had planned. It was really just luck,” Gray said.
The Lowes Heroes project donated $1,200 worth of material and more than 20 volunteers who came to the school last week and cleaned the courtyard, planted new bushes, painted the amphitheater, and power washed outside. A spokesperson from Lowes in Wheelersburg was not available to comment.
“I think they did an excellent job. They worked really hard, and they weren’t the only ones,” Gray said.
Now that the mess is gone, Gray said she will continue to maintain the courtyard with the help of volunteers. She would like to add wrought iron benches for outdoor classes.
Ryan Scott Ottney may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Ryan on Twitter @PDTwriter.