Volunteers from three organizations teamed up on Saturday to enhance outdoor space at Bernard Terrace Elementary School near Government Street.
They installed new basketball goals, painted markings for hopscotch and other games on the court and planted vegetable and butterfly gardens.
Principal Demetric Dunbar said she knew students would notice the changes on Monday.
“They’re always excited about anything that brightens up the campus,” Dunbar said.
In addition to beautifying the school grounds, Dunbar said, the improvements would reduce behavioral issues by giving kids more to do during breaks outside.
“If we have more structured activities, it’s going to make recess a whole lot easier,” said Brandon Antwine, a longtime school volunteer and new fourth- and fifth-grade teacher. Antwine attended the school in the late 1990s and said it needed enhancements such as Saturday’s years ago.
Dunbar said the school is working to encourage positive behavior through a points-based reward system. She said well-behaved students would be allowed to care for the new gardens during club time every other Friday. And they might get to taste the cabbage, broccoli and greens they grow.
Two groups aimed at revitalizing Baton Rouge — Forum 35 and the Mid City Redevelopment Alliance — worked on Saturday’s project with Jones Walker, a law firm.
“We try to do a few (projects) each year where we get out and donate time and not just money,” said Jill Joffrion, Jones Walker’s marketing manager.
Joffrion said law firm employees have worked on service projects at elementary schools for the past three years.
The firm funded the project at Bernard Terrace Elementary and brought about 15 volunteers on Saturday to join others from Forum 35 and the Mid City Redevelopment Alliance.
Forum 35, formed in 1993, is a group of young professionals seeking to improve Baton Rouge by sponsoring projects in public education, the arts and cultural diversity.
The Mid City Redevelopment Alliance, formed in the late 1980s, works on community outreach in the Mid City area, which is bounded by Choctaw Drive, North Foster Drive, Interstate 10 and Interstate 110.
Samuel Sanders, executive director of the Mid City Redevelopment Alliance, said the groups picked Bernard Terrace Elementary because it’s not scheduled for renovations like other schools, such as Dufrocq Elementary and Baton Rouge Magnet High School.
Bernard Terrace Elementary, built in 1927, houses 420 students attending pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade classes, Dunbar said.
The school still needs a lot of work, especially inside, Dunbar said. She said teachers have offered to help repaint hallways, but had to wait until the building was assessed for possible safety concerns.
On Friday, Dunbar gained approval to repaint inside, and she’s already making plans to do so with the Mid City Redevelopment Alliance.
“It’s a long-term project that we have here,” Sanders said.