As a senior at Lakewood High School, Currie Carter and her fellow students wants to see major improvements with a bumpy and rocky parking lot. She’s not going to be at the school next year, but she wants future Leopards to have a smooth surface to park cars.
Carter, president of the Student Government Association (SGA), addressed the Sampson County Board of Education about problems with the school’s parking lot. While speaking on behalf of the school, Carter brought up nuisances such as potholes, unstable gravel and damages to vehicles.
“For the past 40 years, we continue to remain the only school in Sampson County that does not have a completely paved parking lot,” Carter said.
Built in 1976, Carter said parents and students have expressed concerns about the surface. According to the student organization, 130 people use the parking lot everyday when school is in session. It’s also used for sporting events and other meetings at Lakewood.
“The parking currently poses a safety hazard to both people and vehicles,” Carter said. “The gravel does not provide stability when one walks on the rocks, which allows greater chance that a person can be injured when crossing, which has happened.”
Carter said the rocks have popped tires, cracked windshields and other vehicle-related problems. In addition to the gravel concerns, drainage issues which produces standing water in the parking lot and surrounding areas.
To fix the problem, the SGA took the initiative to start a campaign titled “Pave It Forward.” The purpose is to collect funds which will be used for paving the students parking lot and fixing the drainage issues. Fundraising efforts are underway. The students have sold bracelets, stickers and joined My Coke Rewards, which allows the schools to receive funds by collecting bottle caps and entering codes online.
Arnold Sandy of Sandy’s Hauling & Backhoe Service, Inc. provided a professional assessment of the paving work needed. The estimate, which includes expanding the parking lot by 5 feet on both sides and fixing the drainage system is $70,000. The SGA is requesting $40,000 from the district to help with the process.
“We anticipate raising the balance from donors as well as continuing our fundraising efforts,” Carter said. “We’re very hopeful that this request will be granted and look forward to as well as appreciate the Board of Education’s support.”
As student body president, Carter feels that sound educational decisions should be made on the needs of the students.
“To me, this is a need,” Carter said.
Following the SGA presentation, Hunter added that problems exist in the driveway as well.
“That would be something in addition to the parking lot,” Hunter said.
In two weeks, about $800 has been raised, so far. Principal Kevin Hunter said the students have been very creative when it comes to raising money. During senior night for the basketball team, Hunter said the group gave the players balls with signatures from the student body, who paid $1 apiece to write their names.
“Not only did they raise money, but they were doing something for their fellow students,” Hunter said about the gifts to the basketball team.
A time frame for completion has not been set, but the students are working,with future students in mind. The group working to raise money currently includes nine Lakewood High School students. Throughout the year, they’ll continue fundraising efforts.
“It’s truly an honor to be a part of this and help our school out and make it the best it can be,” said student Jana Hunter.
Sarah Strickland, secretary of the Student Government Association, said it was an ambitious undertaking for the school in Lakewood. She said it can be a challenging process trying to maneuver around the potholes.
“We just hope that we can get this done and make Lakewood a better place as a whole for the future students,” Strickland said.
Caitlin Ivey, vice president of the Student Government Association, feels the same and added that they’re very proud to be Lakewood students.
“We want to do everything in our power to make it a better place for future generations,” Ivey said.
Board members applauded their efforts for beginning the effort. Telfair Simpson, board member, said it’s an ambitious project and the board will take it into consideration.
“I know your community, school and parents are very proud of you,” said Board President Dewain Sinclair. “There’s a lot of ambition there and I look forward to seeing it happen.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.