East Central University’s Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) Team, along with other ECU students and several community partners, are in the midst of an extreme makeover at Willard Grade Center.
The SIFE Team has led an effort that has resulted in more than 250 man hours being contributed to the project. Using a $2,000 grant from the Lowe’s Educational Foundation and working with Lowe’s Store 1749 in Ardmore, students are working hard to improve the already great conditions for Willard students, said Dr. Pat Fountain, ECU professor of business administration and SIFE sponsor.
“Nothing is really broke here at Willard,” according to project co-leader Brad Butler of Ada, an ECU senior and Willard graduate. “Mr. Mann and the crew here do a great job. We are just trying to make things better.”
So far the SIFE Team has completely refurbished the entryway landscaping on 9th Street and the school sign on the corner of 9th and Center, restriped outside playground lines, painted the outside backboards, cleaned the covered playground area, repainted the front crosswalk and building entry sidewalk, mowed and done a lot of weed eating. Inside, the ECU students have cleaned the gym walls.
Plans call for the SIFE team to steam clean the stage curtains, redo some of the lines on the gym floor, install a permanent projector screen on the stage, clean the basketball backboards, replace any bad rims in the gym and put some color on the walls. The SIFE Team also plans to restripe the parking area on the east side of the school and change it from 90 degree, straight-in parking to angled parking.
“The Willard slogan is ‘Doing the Right Thing’ and we plan to get that and a big block A on the gym wall,” explained project co-leader Natalie Roberts, a junior from Byng.
The goal of the project, according to the students’ grant application, is to “make this all-purpose room a place of pride and inspiration for the 400-plus 5th and 6th graders who use the room daily now and for future daily users. We want them to say ‘Wow!’ and be inspired and proud to be a part of the Ada Cougar tradition of excellence every time they enter the room.”
The SIFE team has had a lot of help, said project co-leader Bethany Carroll, a senior from Tishomingo. More than 40 ECU students, faculty, local citizens and even a couple of ECU parents have been involved so far.
She explained that a crew from Winters construction took all the old materials down, painted the pipe and installed new materials on the backstop on the playground. Action Electric will do some wiring on the stage for the projector screen and First Class Lawncare has let the group use a lot of their equipment.
The City of Ada, through its self-help program, has donated paint for crosswalks and the parking area as well as offered many great tips on redoing the parking area.
“We really want to thank our School of Business dean, Wendell Godwin,” added Roberts. “Dean Godwin came out on a Saturday and worked all day. He is a big supporter of the SIFE team and we really appreciate all that he does with us and for us.”