Ninety Six Primary File

NINETY SIX SCHOOLS

Ninety Six Primary School wants to take class outdoors, and Ascend Performance Materials is helping school staff do it.

On April 29, the Ascend Care Foundation donated $30,000 to fund a grant from the school to build an outdoor classroom. The school had recently had a kindergarten building demolished at the center of its campus, leaving an open space that was perfect for an outdoor classroom, Principal Kelly-Graham Weeks said.

And Ascend made for the perfect partner to make it happen.

“They’ve just done so much for us this year,” she said.

In the fall, the Ascend Care Foundation donated $5,000 to the school to help purchase masks to protect against COVID-19, along with antibacterial wipes, hand sanitizer and other essentials. The foundation also donated more than 100 bookbags for students, packed with school supplies.

After seeing the foundation’s generosity, Weeks thought of pitching them the idea of a grant to build the outdoor classroom. The space would be landscaped, offering seating for students to work individually and in groups, with double-sided boards and trollies for teachers to help them use the space like they would any classroom.

Weeks wants to see interactive panels in the area, including one to teach sign language and others for science and social studies. One wall will be painted with chalkboard paint, to let students write and draw on the wall.

“It just gives a fun, alternative way to have regular class outside of a classroom,” Weeks said.

The Ascend Care Foundation was started in 2011 in response to tornado damage in Alabama leaving employees at an Ascend facility there without homes, said Valerie Dansby, an Ascend Greenwood employee representing the foundation. All Ascend facilities pooled their resources to help, and since then the foundation has been dedicated to local charity and involvement.

To celebrate the foundation’s 10-year anniversary, they selected Ninety Six Primary School as a partner to work with on this project.

“Last September, we started building a relationship with Ninety Six primary and District 52,” she said. “We just thought it was a good idea to help with creating that environment. We love to put funds into the community, but our thing is sweat equity — volunteer work.”

She said the foundation will be offering volunteers to help paint and get the outdoor classroom ready when the time comes.

“We can’t wait to see the smiles on kids’ faces,” Dansby said.

Contact staff writer Damian Dominguez at 864-634-7548 or follow on Twitter @IJDDOMINGUEZ.