For 40 years, students, staff and visitors to Lakewood High School have experienced a bumpy — and sometimes dangerous and damaging — arrival to class, and students leaders are looking for that to change.
Currie Carter, president of the Student Government Association (SGA), addressed the Sampson County Board of Commissioners on Monday, raising the ongoing issue of potholes and unstable gravel that makes up the school’s parking lot. It regularly causes damage to vehicles and poses a safety hazard to students, Carter said.
She spoke to the Sampson Board of Education about the matter at the end of last month. Built in 1976, Lakewood has been dealing with the problem ever since, the SGA president asserted.
“Since its inception, students and parents have expressed concern with the lack of a properly-designed student parking lot,” she remarked. “For the past 40 years, we continue to remain the only school in Sampson County that does not have a completely paved parking lot.”
Approximately 130 students use the parking lot every day when school is in session. It is also used for sporting events and other meetings and assemblies at Lakewood.
“The parking lot currently poses a safety hazard to both people and vehicles,” said Carter.
The gravel does not provide stability when people walk on it, and the sharp little rocks have caused tires to pop, windshields to crack and issues with brakes and front-end alignment. Drainage issues have also resulted in standing water in the parking lot and surrounding area.
Caitlin Ivey, vice president of the SGA, distributed photos to commissioners of about 15 potholes and a windshield busted in the past month, the result of flying rocks. Carter said students are already hard at work raising funds to try to alleviate the problem.
Arnold Sandy, owner of Sandy’s Hauling & Backhoe Service Inc., provided a professional estimate for paving, including expanding the parking lot by 5 feet on both sides for safety and fixing the drainage system — the approximate cost is $70,000. On Feb. 22, the Lakewood SGA requested $40,000 from the Sampson County Schools Board of Education, and on Monday asked for the remaining $30,000 from the Sampson Board of Commissioners.
To fix what Carter called a “major issue,” the SGA has already taken the initiative to organize a team of nine students to start a campaign called “Pave It Forward.” The purpose is to collect funds which will be used solely for paving the students parking lot and fixing the drainage issues. The students are selling Lakewood bracelets and stickers, and have joined My Coke Rewards, which allows the schools to receive funds by collecting bottle caps and entering codes online.
“We have also held fundraisers at games and generous donations have been given,” said Carter. “We have recently had a donor call and ask if they could paint a barn quilt to donate to our project to be raffled off.”
Sarah Strickland, secretary of the Lakewood SGA, passed out copies of Sandy’s estimate to commissioners. Carter said the school board seemed receptive to the idea and she hoped for the same from commissioners.
“We are very hoping you will agree with them,” Carter remarked. “We are very hopeful this request will be granted and look forward to, as well as appreciate, the Board of Commissioners’ support. As student body president, I feel like sound educational decisions should be based on the needs of students and, to me, this is a major need.”
As school board members did last month, commissioners said they would be considering the request. No action was taken.
Chairman Billy Lockamy thanked Carter for her presentation, and Commissioner Clark Wooten lauded her for a “wonderful presentation.” Commissioner Harry Parker agreed the parking lot was in need of an overhaul.
“That parking lot is in bad shape. That’s my district and I know that,” Parker noted. “I feel like we should consider this also. They are the only school in Sampson County that has that kind of parking lot.”
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