The campus of Winona Christian School has been buzzing the last month as work crews complete a number of projects for the upcoming school year.
According to Headmaster Jimmy Pittman, a paving project is nearing completion, with the circle drive in front of the school, the main parking lot, the drive to the baseball and softball complexes, and the school track all being resurfaced. Pittman said the parking lot, located between the main school building and the gymnasium, will have bumpers installed and be striped for parking.
In front of the school, a new retaining wall was constructed, and a new illuminated sign will be installed before the new school year begins. All fencing around the school was replaced with powder-coated black fencing, and a wrought-iron fence along the front of the campus is planned for the future.
The improvements were funded by private donations and outside money.
“Everything we’ve done is not just to improve the aesthetics [of the campus], but with student safety in mind,” Pittman said. “By the time school starts, we will be ready.”
In addition to campus improvements, the a new state-of-the art sprinkler system was installed at the new softball complex, with plans to have irrigation systems installed on all athletic fields in the future. The softball complex was fully renovated last summer, and this past spring, a new baseball complex, including new dugouts, fencing, seating, and press box, was completed. Forty chair-back seats were installed behind home plate.
Improvements to the athletic facilities at the school were paid for by funds from the Winona Christian School Athletic Foundation.
“We didn’t get to really enjoy the field this year,” Pittman said. “We had a few activities.”
The COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of in-person classes mid-March, as well as, all spring athletics.
Although teachers and students were still “having class” through at-home learning and online classes, with no students on campus, the opportunity to begin improvements early allowed more to get done before students head back in August.
“Our plan is to start out with a traditional five-day school week, and of course have a plan if something arises,” Pittman said. “But our plan is to go to school.”
Pittman said temperature checks, student distancing, and other measures are being put into place for the next school year. He said the school’s cafeteria is large enough that there is room to spread out, especially for the elementary students, and recess should be held on the playground as usual.
Pittman praised the commitment and ingenuity of his faculty for their hard work and planning for distance learning. They adapted to the use of online resources and created and graded at-home packets for every student each week.
“Our people did a good job after spring break of keeping things going,” Pittman said. “The staff went above and beyond. Our students were held accountable [for the work they did at home and turned in.] Our parents are paying for an education, and we are going to provide it.”
He said the faculty and staff got creative and were able to hold all the year-end events, even if they were done virtually. Academic and athletic award banquets were streamed online, as was Kindergarten Graduation. The school did organize a traditional graduation and prom for the Class of 2020.
“We were still having school, but we were having it in a different way,” Pittman said.
Pittman said under the leadership of the school’s board of trustees, he felt the final term of distance learning was a success.
“I can’t give [the board] enough praise for their guidance through [this pandemic],” Pittman said. “It is a tremendous board.”
When classes begin in August, Pittman said students will see an expanded curriculum that will include art and music for all grades.