I Promise School on a Fast Track Now

'Irish' and Other Volunteers Pitch In
Posted on 06/13/2018
Image of I Promise School Volunteers(as reported by Theresa Cottom, Ohio.com/Akron Beacon Journal)

On Monday, the large Colonial-style building at 400 W. Market St. closed its doors as the temporary home to Case Elementary.

And nearly as soon as the sun came up Tuesday, the I Promise School took over.

Volunteers stormed the building at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday to clear it out and make way for a total revamping for the I Promise School, set to open there to 240 third- and fourth-graders in July.

For members of the LeBron James Family Foundation, which is opening the school in partnership with Akron Public Schools, Tuesday was a symbolic first step in the seven-week plan to transform the building.

“It feels like moving day, when you move to a new home,” said Keith Liechty, the family liaison for the foundation and Akron schools. “It feels real today, to be here so boldly.”

The school district has used the building to house other schools that need a temporary location, including Case Elementary, which is moving into its own building on Garman Road for the upcoming school year.

The West Market Street building is and will remain the home of Project GRAD and Pala­dina Health, a clinic for APS employees.

It’s slated as a temporary location for the I Promise School. As the school quickly grows to include about 960 kids in grades one through eight by 2022-23, those most involved with its creation hope for all the space they can get.

“We’re going to outgrow this fast,” Liechty said.

Nearly 240 people, mostly students on various sports teams from LeBron James’ alma mater, St. Vincent-St. Mary High School and also volunteers, St. V-M coaches and foundation members showed up Tuesday to make the grand move possible. About half had the morning shift, while the other half took the evening shift.

“We’re bringing our family to combine with the LeBron James Family Foundation to make this school the best it can be,” said Madalyn Morse, a volunteer who will be a senior in the coming school year at St. V-M. “LeBron has given so much back to St. V … It’s the least we can do.”

Like so many of the foundation’s functions, the move resembled a party.

The clanging of a seemingly endless stream of desks, chairs and tables moving through the building was hardly audible over the pulsating music played by a disc jockey and the work being done outside at the driveway entrance, where construction workers began laying fresh concrete. During breaks between moving trucks, which were filled and taken to the district’s warehouse nearly every half-hour, students took a break to socialize and dance.

The move was a community effort, with Two Men and a Truck providing trucks, Swensons providing lunch and DJ Brian Hostler providing the music.

Volunteers, construction workers, community partners and others will be ever-present at the building as they push to finish renovations by the school’s July 30 opening day.

Between donations from the foundation and donations from community partners, more than $300,000 worth of renovations will be underway in the upcoming weeks, including the installation of a Don Drumm sculpture, landscaping, concrete enhancements and a total overhaul of the building’s walls and furniture. The entire school will have a sleek, black-and-white color scheme, and classrooms will get new wall and locker decals, seats and custom-made student desks.

“We’re really excited,” said Olivia Ayres, a 19-year-old intern with the foundation who organized the moving event. “We have a lot to do in a little amount of time, but we have so many willing to help out.” Watch the video here >>.

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