School improvement was in full force at Evans Middle School Monday, and the concept had nothing to do with test scores.
Pupils, parents and faculty joined about 60 Home Depot employees to spruce up the school property.
Principal Michael Johnson said The Home Depot awarded the school a $20,000 grant to perform various projects on the school grounds. He said the partnership started when graduation coach Melanie Taylor approached The Home Depot about helping the school build an outdoor classroom.
"They just thought it would be a good idea to be a partner in education with us because we used to be on their land," Johnson said.
The Home Depot now occupies Evans Middle School's former site at Washington and North Belair roads.
Johnson said the grants will be awarded in three phases, and the first grant, which covered Monday's projects, was about $6,000.
Volunteers built a playground and a brick wall, put up a chain-link fence and planted trees and shrubs.
Some pupils poured concrete to spell EMS on the hillside between the school and the Columbia County Board of Education building. Others repainted the rock by the school entry.
"One of our core values is giving back to our community," said Debra Medlin, a Home Depot manager and the Team Depot captain.
Taylor said she and Medlin have been working on the partnership for months.
"This started out very small," Taylor said.
Johnson said the volunteers were divided into seven zones to complete the projects.
"We wanted to allow the associates to work hand-in-hand with the students to show them teamwork," Medlin said.
Seventh-grader Vanessa Marshall helped pour concrete and plant trees and shrubs. She said she had planted vegetation before.
"My grandma makes me when I go over there. She has like a garden thingy," she said.
Seventh-grader Bryce Adair, who said he helps his father with building projects, put posts in the ground.
"It's kind of fun. You get to talk to your friends, and you get to work," he said.
"I want to do this next year."
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