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Projects at Lakewood Elementary take shape

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By Amber Coulter

Projects were coming together Friday at Lakewood Elementary School.

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To the side of the building, volunteers from the Lincoln Trail Home Builders Association were constructing an outdoor classroom.

In front of the school, an artist in residence was putting the finishing touches on a limestone sculpture of a bear wading through grass and water.

Ruthie Miller, director of a project supported by federal grant money, said the children have loved seeing the bear take shape.

The grant is meant to provide academic enrichment and community activities for parents.

Jason G. Kelty, of Shepherdsville, has been the school’s artist in residence for four months. He thinks the sculpture took about 400 hours to complete.

Each of the 586 students at the school this past spring helped begin the project by chipping away at the block of limestone estimated to weigh 6 tons.

About 14 students did more work on the piece during a two-week camp this past summer.

Working with schools is Kelty’s primary interest. He also teaches art.

“It’s another opportunity to teach and to show the process,” he said. “I think it’s a mystery to a lot of people, how to achieve something like that.”

Miller is in charge of partnering with individuals and organizations in the community for projects such as the sculpture and the outdoor classroom.

That’s why she approached the home builders association about constructing an outdoor classroom where horticulture classes can learn about nature.

A Hardin County Soil Conservation Office representative approached Miller about a $6,000 grant for an outdoor learning center. The school won the grant, which also is planned to help cover a rain barrel, landscaping around the classroom and other features meant to help students better understand nature.

Friday was the builders’ second day of construction, and the frame of the building was taking shape. The volunteers set posts the week before.

Ronnie Ellis, president of Lincoln Trail Home Builders, thought it would take a couple more full days of work to complete the project.

Charles Ferguson, who Ellis credits as a driving force behind the project, said the group’s registered builders came together and decided to do the project when Miller told them the school needed an outdoor classroom.

Materials were bought with grant money, and Lincoln Trail Home Builders members have been donating their time for construction.

Members enjoy giving back to the community and occasionally volunteer to tackle such projects, Ferguson said.

Ellis agreed helping around the area is important to the group.

“That’s what we’re doing, helping the community,” he said.

Amber Coulter can be reached at 270-505-1746 or acoulter@thenewsenterprise.com.