By Colleen S. Good
Times West Virginian
Rivesville Elementary and Middle School students now have shelter from the rain, with a new canopy between the main building and the cafeteria.
The canopy project broke ground in July, with all of the finishing touches made just last week.
The school held a dedication ceremony Saturday to thank everyone who helped make the project a success. A dedication plaque can be found at the entrance to the cafeteria, appropriately found under the canopy itself. The plaque lists everyone who was involved in helping the project come to a successful conclusion.
Among the guests at the dedication were contractor James Layman and his crew, Delegate Mike Caputo, Delegate Linda Longstreth, Delegate Tim Manchin, Rick and Linda Parker, and state Senators Roman Prezioso and Bob Beach.
Principal Mark Stutler emphasized what the completed project meant to the community.
“To casual observers, this beautiful canopy structure may not seem like a big deal,” Stutler said, “but to us here at Rivesville Elementary and Middle School, it’s a dream realized.”
Stutler explained that this project has been on the minds of Rivesville principals for decades.
“I was looking through our old local School Improvement Council meeting minutes, and over 30 years ago, they had proposed some sort of canopy,” Stutler said. “Every principal after that principal had at least brought it to the board’s attention, and said, ‘This is what we need. Our kids are getting wet.’”
When Stutler came to the school eight years ago, he made the canopy project a priority.
“We kind of piece-mealed it until about two years ago,” Stutler said, “and then it all came together.”
Tricia Moore, an art teacher at the school, created a drawing of what they hoped the completed project would look like, and they sent it out with a letter to alumni, asking for donations.
“It sort of just snowballed from there,” Stutler said.
Among the alumni contributers were the Parkers, who currently live in Cleveland, Ohio. After starting a successful concrete and asphalt business, Rick Parker wanted to give back. The Parkers have donated to the canopy project, and have also started a scholarship for Fairmont Senior High School students who went to Rivesville Elementary and Middle School who want to go to college. So far, they have given twelve $1,000 scholarships to local students.
After sending out the donation letter to alumni, Stutler then gave a presentation to the Marion County Board of Education, who contributed $10,000. Then Caputo helped them secure an additional $15,000. Caputo is a former Rivesville student. Manchin, Caputo and Longstreth, as well as Prezioso and Beach have been a great help, Stutler said.
Longstreth said she understands the importance of support from the Legislature to the project.
“We know money can be hard to come by,” Longstreth said. “Those kids shouldn’t have to walk to class out in the rain.”
Prezioso and Beach presented Stutler with a commemorative certificate for the $15,000 the school has already received from the Legislature for the project.
“It’s a great community. As a lifelong resident, I’m just happy to be a part of it,” Prezioso said. “It’s a pleasure to be able to be in a position to help.”
Lydia Runyan, a seventh-grader and student body vice president, said the canopy was a big deal to her and her friends.
“It protects us from getting wet and protects our books,” Runyan said. “We got new books this year, so it helps because we won’t have to keep getting new ones as often.”
There are also two additional phases to the project: a railing and canopy for the gymnasium steps, and a canopy to the Q building, where middle schoolers have most of their classes. Stutler said he hopes to be able to work with the West Virginia Legislature again to make those phases happen. Stutler is optimistic.
“Now that people have seen what a great job contractor James Layman and his team have done, they’re ready to help with the next stage,” Stutler said.
Email Colleen S. Good at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @CSGoodTWV.