Fort Scott High School Senior Ella Beth began a school project in her sophomore year that will benefit the school for years to come: a redesign of the high school’s courtyard.
The long-term project provided real-life business experience as well.
Fort Scott High School Courtyard Is Transformed
“I walked by the courtyard every day of my freshman year and was upset to learn that the space… was now used for nothing,” Beth said. “I decided that I wanted to bring the courtyard back to its former glory because I saw it as bursting with potential to be a place that promoted Tiger Pride and an opportunity for students to learn or relax outdoors.”
The courtyard is an open space enclosed by the high school academic classrooms.
It has been used for pep rallies, activity meetings and outdoor classes.
Project Because of Her Design Interest
The project idea came because Beth is interested in interior design.
She and a classmate, Dawna Hudiberg, wanted to design some project and then implement their ideas.
” We brainstormed and came up with the idea of renovating the courtyard,” Beth said. “Dawna eventually decided to take on another project, but I really wanted to have an area that allowed for some outdoor time and a possible way to promote Tiger Pride and unity in our school. Mrs. Kemmerer then helped me to get started on the project my sophomore year.”
“She presented her project proposal to the FSHS Principal and Superintendent for approval early last Fall 2019,” Angie Kemmerer, FSHS Independent Study Class teacher, said.
The goal was to have the project completed in time for the FSHS All-School Reunion in June 2020, but the COVID-19 Pandemic halted work.
Beth began in the spring of 2018 to design the project, her new deadline is May 2021, before she graduates.
” I encouraged Ella to develop a project plan with her ideas as a way for her to gain real-world experience in an area that she was interested in,” Kemmerer said. “She wanted to do something that would benefit others. When she first asked me about the possibility of remodeling the courtyard, my response was ‘why not’? She did her research, developed a plan, created a budget, identified community resources, wrote grants, networked, created community buy-in, discovered the importance of sweat equity and stepped outside of her comfort zone. She learned that things don’t always go the way you plan, but where there is a will there is away.”
“She started raising money, mostly through writing grants, and contacting local alumni-owned businesses to help with different parts of the project last year,” Kemmerer said. “She has networked with different FSHS programs to help with specific areas of her redesign plan and is currently trying to raise funds to finish the project.”
A Collaborative Effort
The project has been a collaborative effort.
“The turf and labor to install it was donated by FSHS alum Joe Kerr,” Kemmerer said.
“FSHS Physical Education and construction trades students helped move and spread the turf fill for the installation.”
“The funding for the concrete material came from the TIMKEN Community Grant and the labor was donated by RII Concrete Construction owned by FSHS alum Mike Rogers.”
“The eight tables and soon to be 45 benchtops are built by Mr. Lawerence’s construction trades students.”
“Legs for the 45 benches will be made by Mr. Parks ag program. The funding for the benches and tables came from the Fort Scott Area Community Foundation Grant and money set aside by USD234 for this project.”
The wall murals were designed by art students working under FSHS Art Teacher Ellen Kendrick.
“The aluminum panels for the murals were purchased with a grant from the Community Foundation of Southeast Kansas.”
Mr. Feagin’s, FSMS Technology Teacher Mr. Feagins will help Ella complete the design and application of the murals to the panels, Kemmerer said.
“Ella received funds from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Healthy pathways grant to purchase outdoor activities like giant Jenga, chess, checkers, ping pong and more for students to enjoy during free time,” Kemmerer said.
“Raised gardens will be installed for use by Mr. Hudiburg’s life science classes. The ground will be regraded to prep it for new sod and proper drainage. The old concrete will be cleaned, sealed and stained to match the new stamped concrete.”
“FSHS alum Gina Shelton has helped connect her to grant opportunities and support with connecting with additional alumni.”
“FSHS alum Matt Casner helped Ella create a Facebook page that links to a Go Fund Me page to help raise funds to complete the project. Unfortunately, shortly after its launch, a global pandemic hit and she has not been able to reach her ultimate goal.”
Sun Shades Still Need Funding
The last big expense, which she is seeking additional funding for, is the sun shades.
“The biggest expense left for the redesign project is the installation of sun shades at a cost of $22,000,” Kemmerer said. “This will be the last phase of the project, if funding allows. A donor wall will be created when the project is finished to recognize everyone who contributed along the way.”