WORDS: Peggy Kronus, Willis Smith Construction
William H. Bashaw Elementary School
William H. Bashaw Elementary School, Principal Joshua Bennett, and Assistant Principal Beth Marshall, welcomed each student back to school and told them: this year is going to be the best year yet! Their excitement was due to a major campus renovation recently completed by Willis Smith Construction. As the students returned, they noticed all the portable classrooms had been replaced with a brand-new building which has eight new classrooms. Upon entering the renovated buildings, they discovered a new media center, music lab, computer lab, art lab, and an improved cafeteria with additional space, including a stage for performances. A total of 44 new classrooms will be utilized for grades Pre-K through 5th. With the students returning to the refreshed classrooms, it was the ideal time to rewrite the vision and mission of the school. Grade-level teams have worked over a three-year period to migrate from a “STEM” curriculum, to a “STEAM” curriculum, which incorporates the Arts along with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. This will elevate student engagement. Working closely over the last few years, a partnership developed between the leadership of Willis Smith Construction and Bashaw Elementary. As Principal Bennett explained: “Our partnership with Willis Smith Construction during the renovation has had a tremendous impact on the students and families. “Willis Smith made it known that they were not just on our campus to complete a project, but to partner with our school. They donated additional funds to provide the school with a new marquee (sign.) This allows all our parents and community to have daily communication and display what our school offers.” “A second example of our partnership was their sponsorship that provided an EPCOT field trip scholarship to our students that needed funds. This was a school wide field trip, and many funds were needed to support all our students and enable them to attend. Willis Smith was there to donate and provide that additional support.” Wade Wolfe, Willis Smith Project Manager, worked closely with the 5th Grade Student Council on their class project. Willis Smith donated their time preparing two designated areas on the playground and installed two “Buddy Benches”, and two wheel-chair accessible picnic tables allowing students with disabilities to eat their lunch outside with their fellow classmates. As the school year began, the playground became the center hub on campus for students to play and bond with their friends. However, if a child feels that he or she is being bullied, feeling alone, or they need attention of any type, they go sit on the “Buddy Bench.” This signals to the other children, and teachers, that something is wrong and the child needs assistance. The Willis Smith team, along with parents and the student body, celebrated this project with a ribbon cutting ceremony to provide awareness that no one is excluded at their school. The entire Staff at William H. Bashaw Elementary is extremely appreciative of the relationships that were developed with Willis Smith over the last several years!