Jackson Co. school rallying community for help to build gym - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Jackson Co. school rallying community for help to build gym

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St. Martin North Elementary has been using a classroom for a gym, and students don't have a lot of space to move around. St. Martin North Elementary has been using a classroom for a gym, and students don't have a lot of space to move around.
ST. MARTIN, MS (WLOX) -

A Jackson County school is calling people in the community to come together to help build a gym. Two years ago, St. Martin North Elementary was slated to receive funds for a new gym, but budget cuts sidelined that project. So this year, the school's coach and PTO launched a campaign to raise the money.

Physical Education classes at St. Martin North Elementary School can get a bit cramped. That's because the gym is just a regular-size classroom.

"Try to imagine 26 kids running around, trying to do an organized activity in here. It's not sufficient. They need a lot more room," said Brittany Walker, St. Martin North Elementary PE Teacher.

The noise level is also a problem. Imagine trying to teach PE when you're right next door to second grade classrooms.

"Make sure you're sitting quietly and still. That way we don't disrupt Ms. Skinner's class," Walker told her students Tuesday.

Walker has another concern. As the population at the school continues to rise and more space is needed, she's worried about losing her classroom next year.   

"I'll probably float around, do a lot of outside stuff and use the atrium when I can. But it can get pretty noisy there," said Walker.

With no money available in the Jackson County School District budget, Walker is leading the charge to raise $70,000 to build a gym.  Walker is also a member of the school PTO. The organization has held several successful fund raisers, like selling T-shirts and hoodies.

"We had such an outpouring of support. We had over 600 orders," Walker said as she held up one of the blue T-shirts.

At least 15 more events are in the works, including a cookie dough sale, a parents' night out, silent auction, and a Valentine's Day Ball.

"We're going to do engraved bricks, so it can be a walkway to our gym," Walker said.

So far, the school has raised more than $26,000 towards its overall goal.  Most of that money came from an after-school care program. Walker believes that amount should be enough to lay the slab for the new gym. She's hoping once the foundation is poured, it will build momentum for the rest of the project.

"They'll have a legitimate PE class. They can run. Weather won't be a problem. We'll be outside in our own space. It'll be amazing," said Walker.

And it will truly be a gym the community built.

The plan is to build the gym behind the school library. The Jackson County School Board still needs to approve the site.

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