ELK GARDEN - About last year at this time Mike Saturday, principal of Elk Garden Primary School, paid a visit to the Oakland Lowes to purchase a countertop for the school's secretary office.

By Jean Braithwaite
Tribune Correspondent
ELK GARDEN - About last year at this time Mike Saturday, principal of Elk Garden Primary School, paid a visit to the Oakland Lowes to purchase a countertop for the school’s secretary office.
Because of that trip, a remodeling process for a large part of the mountain top school got underway.
While hoping for a discount on the purchase of the countertop, Saturday felt perhaps 10 percent off the price would be in the school’s budget, and then he was introduced to Teresa Gross, Lowes assistant store manager.
During their conversation, Gross spoke about a Heroes Project undertaken by the Oakland Lowes for 2018 being available, and later Saturday heard extremely good news when the recipient of that project would be the Elk Garden School.
Across the United States, the Lowes Heroes Project combines volunteers to become the heroes to assist with remodeling or rebuilding, focusing on community improvement and giving attention to K-12 public schools.
The Lowes Heroes Project also steps in during times of natural disasters, and in 2017, Lowes employees gave over 87,000 volunteer hours to compete tasks needed for the betterment of communities across the nation.
Shannon Clary, an Oakland Lowes employee, is the project coordinator for the Elk Garden School project, and she said the sought-after counter top is now at the school.
She named numerous projects in the Oakland area that were under the direction of Lowes, including a split rail fence installed at Southern High School, a large flower bed creation under the Welcome to Oakland sign, a heart-shaped memorial garden complete with the planting of spring bulbs for the Oakland Hospice, and the donation of a storage shed for The House of Hope food pantry.
Giving a tour of the Elk Garden School, Clary listed all that has been accomplished to complete the update, starting with the gym.
The project for Elk Garden School was started on July 31 and it is expected to be completed today.
Clary added that volunteers for this project numbered just around 45 and included teachers, the principal, community residents, school alumni, former students, Lowes employees, and many others who were at the school to offer a helping hand.
She said that Lowes of LaVale partners with the Oakland Lowes, and associates from LaVale came several days to help. One of those was excited to assist with improvements in the school attended by her mother, the former Jenny Bucklew.
Clary was accompanied by Gross to tour the school in late June to make an assessment on what could be accomplished in the school’s project.
From the assessment, she said the lower half of the gym was painted, along with the bleachers, and that area will be usable when school starts in a few weeks.
The computer lab walls were also painted.
Principal Saturday’s office was given an overhaul, with a water damage repair in a small area, and the installation of white wall, base, and tall cabinets.
The office will have a Disney theme, with several quotes to be placed on the walls, and one of those speaks of laughter being a good thing.
The secretary’s office shows new white cabinets and new painted walls, while the teacher’s lounge/meeting room has newly painted walls, along with a new sink, stove, refrigerator, butcher block island, electrical outlet covers, and kitchen cabinet pulls.
A silver block-shaped backsplash was installed, and the school’s teacher’s aide Melissa Reel undertook this project.
New wall trim was placed in the hallway of the lower classroom area, and every classroom now has cordless blinds at every window.
On the outside of the school, mulch was placed in many areas, with two new basketball hoops in place, and repainting of the lines on the blacktop, associated with the basketball court.
A sandbox received a new coat of paint and new sand, with a canopy top to be placed over the sandbox.
The playground, located at the front of the school, now has plastic edging, replacing the rotten wooden timbers. The weeds are being removed, and in areas where several pieces of the play equipment had large anchoring concrete boulders exposed, there is now matting and pea gravel.
Later, the playground is expected to be covered with rubber mulch.
Clary said that she was grateful for all the volunteers, and, “Many took time from work and time from their families to help,” and she said that evening hours were available for those who wanted to volunteer but worked throughout the daytime.
She also said, “There was a good employee turnout,” speaking of those from Lowes, and, “We all together wanted to get this Heroes Project completed.”
Principal Saturday also offered words of appreciation to those who helped with the projects, and said, “They did so because they wanted to help beautify the school.”
“It is unbelievable in the change on the inside and outside of the school,” he said.
Saturday said that he could not thank the volunteers enough, including those from Lowes, for all their assistance.
He recalled what Oakland Lowes did for Elk Garden Primary School last year, when he mentioned a new washer and dryer, two new microwaves, flower-filled pots, and the flower garden surrounding the school sign.
“I could go on and on about all the help from the volunteers,” Saturday said, adding, “It is amazing how everyone came together to help Elk Garden Primary School.”
He said as he named the different improvements at the school that has happened over the past days, “We have all this because the school needed a countertop for the secretary’s office.”