A prominent nondenominational south side church is about to get a new location in an unlikely place, Wildwood Elementary School.
The Chapel began to partner with the Baton Rouge public school in 2004 and hasn’t stopped. Church members have helped spruce up the campus and underwrote much of the cost of a new playground installed last year at 444 Halfway Tree Road.
The church also sends dozens of volunteers to work with Wildwood students, serving as mentors and reading buddies to help kids struggling with their school work learn how to read.
The school, however, had limited space for its visitors.
“They were actually mentoring children in a closet at Wildwood,” Earl Kern, program director with CSRS/Garrard Program Management, told the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board on Nov. 5.
Kern, whose firm oversees most school construction for the school system, said while generous, the money wasn’t enough to build a new building or even purchase and install a new temporary building.
To solve the problem, he ended up moving a temporary building from Villa del Rey Elementary, which was being used for storage, to Wildwood. The school system contributed another $30,000 and Kern’s firm donated its services as did Baton Rouge-based Fusion Architecture and KME Salas O’Brien, an Atlanta-based construction design and management firm.
“It’s just about done. Probably in the next week or so they’ll be able to move into the new T-building,” Kern said.
School Board Vice President Barbara Freiberg thanked church representatives for their generosity.
“That is a huge commitment from your church,” she said.
Board President David Tatman said, “While people talk about what we need to do in our community, you guys walk the walk .”
Kay Wallace, director of family life at The Chapel, said the church supports a wide variety of activities at Wildwood and plans to continue.
“Pretty much anything they say they need, we go to our congregation and say there’s a need and we help,” Wallace said. “It is an honor, it is a privilege, and we thank you for the opportunity.”
Wildwood’s Principal Natalie Jadid became teary eyed when it came her time to speak.
“They are such a blessing. I don’t think I can talk about them without crying,” Jadid said. “It has made such a difference to the kids, to the school. I couldn’t do my job without these people.”