BAKER - Students, teachers and volunteers worked from one end of the Baker High School campus to the other Friday, inside and outside of the many buildings, to make a dent in a long list of maintenance issues.
“This place is a mess. We need to do a lot more work,” Baker School Superintendent Ulysses Joseph said, pausing for a moment in breaking up a flower bed’s brick wall to make room for a stump-grinding machine.
Over the years, a large mimosa tree and its gnarled root system had taken over the flower bed, but workers cut it down Friday and hauled it off.
Over Joseph’s head, a worker on the roof pulled clumps of weeds, roots and all, from the main building’s gutters and tossed the mess to the ground.
Joseph, superintendent since January, said he believes the East Baton Rouge Parish school system stopped spending money to maintain the buildings once Baker began moving toward an independent system.
The superintendent pointed to where windows overlooking the flower bed - caulking loose and missing - allow heated or cooled air to leak.
Although large windows were replaced around the corner from where Joseph worked Friday, the district has not begun a comprehensive renovation program or new construction since Baker took over in 2003.
Principal Traci L. Morgan said more than one “spruce-up day” is needed to fix up the school’s physical plant.
Morgan said she would like to see a collaborative effort from alumni, businesses and civic organizations that would benefit the school and bolster community spirit.
“But I have seen an increase in the number of alumni coming in or calling to ask what they can do to help us,” Morgan said.
Elsewhere on the Groom Road side of the campus, volunteers clipped hedges, trimmed branches and prepared to paint the entrance to the gym and Aerkter Hall.
Behind the school buildings, football players and volunteers wielded scrapers and paint rollers to improve the looks of the home-team locker room under Wedge Kyes Stadium, while work was planned later in the day to upgrade concession stands on both sides of the football field.
The first order of business in the locker room was removing the peeling paint on the ceiling.
Near the gymnasium, a couple of husky football players disconnected three washing machines and a dryer and hauled them to a large trash receptacle already full of campus debris.
Athletic Director Gary Mitchell said none of the machines worked but he hopes to find someone who will donate a washer and dryer for the school’s volleyball and basketball programs.