WMU News

Benton Harbor firms and school officials join forces to transform school

Nov. 13, 1997

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -- A Benton Harbor elementary school that was transformed this fall into the Futures Academy will get an exterior transformation to match its new identity on Saturday, Nov. 22. Community firms have agreed to donate materials, labor and food for the effort, which also will attract school officials and student and staff volunteers from Western Michigan University.

More than 50 individuals are expected to start work at 8 a.m. at the former Bard Elementary School, 1200 E. Main, for a full day of renovation that will include construction of a covered building entrance, replacement of window panes, roof and masonry repair, power washing, painting, landscaping and installation of new signs.

According to Kristen Kettlewell of WMU's Institute for Leadership Transformation, who is coordinating the event, volunteers are expected to complete more than $13,000 in renovations to the building exterior using donated labor and supplies. Volunteers will include professionals from the construction, masonry, roofing, painting and glass industries. They will be assisted by educators, students and employees of supply firms -- all of whom will don construction work hats for the day.

Area firms participating include Allegretti Architects Inc., Custom Glass Co., Discount Glass Co., Garey Roofing, Little Masonry, Lowe's Home Improvement, McCain Builders, Midwest Glass Co., Priebes Glass Co., the Rental Branch, Sherwin Williams Co., Twin Cities Glass Co. and Wal-Mart. Food for the volunteers will be donated by D&W Food Centers Inc., McDonalds and Pizza Hut. Sign Art of Kalamazoo will contribute labor and materials and students from the WMU Department of Art also will participate.

The Futures Academy, part of the Benton Harbor Public School District, opened this fall as an alternative school for seventh-, eighth- and ninth-grade students. The school utilizes individual instruction, block scheduling, student mentoring and cooperative learning to prepare students for successful high school and postsecondary careers.

To arrange or confirm coverage of the Nov. 22 work day activities, persons should contact Kettlewell at 616 387-8376 or John Brown, principal of the Futures Academy, at 616 927-0614.

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