published Monday, June 18th, 2012

Cash, helping hands sought for Red Bank High School makeover

Red Bank High School is located at 40 Morrison Springs Rd. in Red Bank, TN.
Red Bank High School is located at 40 Morrison Springs Rd. in Red Bank, TN.
Photo by Ashlee Culverhouse /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

HOW TO HELP

To volunteer in the makeover project, visit www.bepartofthepride.org or call 874-1900 ext. 1125.

Organizers hope for plenty of helping hands and generous pocketbooks to pull off a one-week, $150,000-makeover of Red Bank High School next month.

The project, dubbed "Be a Part of the Pride," is an effort to spruce up the high school's aging campus through community support. Organizers plan a large-scale cleaning, painting and landscaping effort July 21-28.

The revamp is modeled after similar yet more expensive makeover projects at Normal Park Museum Magnet School, where parents and community members spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless volunteer hours upgrading the upper and lower school campuses. While some Normal Park families are getting involved, the Red Bank project is relying on business and community support from across the Red Bank area.

"We're just kind of taking the formula for what Normal Park did," said Barri Harper, who's leading the Red Bank effort. "It kind of gives you the feeling of one of the extreme makeover shows. It's exciting and fun -- and tiring."

Normal Park parents began meeting several months ago to explore high school options for their students after they leave the K-8 zoned magnet school. Many parents began discussing Red Bank High, which the Normal Park neighborhood is zoned for, and ways they might help improve the school and its image.

Harper, whose wife teaches at Red Bank, helped on both of Normal Park's rehabs. The couple's children have attended Normal Park and will go on to Red Bank.

Harper said some of the Normal Park parents looking into Red Bank are now involved in the rehab project. He expects the face-lift will encourage more students to choose Red Bank High after Normal Park.

"Of course it always helps if your school looks nice. But also when the Normal Park parents come over and get involved they see more of what the school really has to offer them," Harper said.

Tim Ledbetter, who is helping with fundraising, said organizers will write letters to alumni, parents and businesses seeking donations to reach their $150,000 goal. The effort is already pulling in money -- $10,000 from the Red Bank Lions Club and $2,000 from owners of new Zaxby's and Baskin-Robbins stores.

Ledbetter, whose three sons graduated from Red Bank High, said the community is used to pitching in when needed. Boosters raised about $25,000 several years ago to revamp and refurnish the school's weight room.

"Red Bank is a very proud community. We're kind of quiet, and we sit back and do our own thing. But when something like this is needed, we step up and put our best foot forward," he said.

While he's excited about the physical upgrades, first-year Red Bank Principal Justin Robertson said he's encouraged to see support from parents, students, community members and businesses. Robertson was previously principal at Brown Middle School.

"It's a whole community buy-in thing," he said. "The dollars are the big thing, but what I'm most excited about is that we've already got close to 50 people on this committee."

Robertson said Red Bank doesn't need as much infrastructure work as Normal Park's revamps. Most work there will be cosmetic, though Red Bank's campus is larger. Organizers see the 2013 opening of Red Bank Middle School, being built behind the high school, as another reason to spruce up the current building.

"It's going to take a lot of manhours," he said. "But with the middle school coming to campus, I think it will just make the overall campus a better experience for the students of Red Bank."

about Kevin Hardy...

Kevin rejoined the Times Free Press in August 2011 as the Southeast Tennessee K-12 education reporter. He worked as an intern in 2009, covering the communities of Signal Mountain, Red Bank, Collegedale and Lookout Mountain, Tenn. A native Kansan, Kevin graduated with bachelor's degrees in journalism and sociology from the University of Kansas. After graduating, he worked as an education reporter in Hutchinson, Kan., for a year before coming back to Chattanooga. Honors include a ...

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