Richmond County's alternative school might be considered by some as just a place for troubled students, but on Wednesday a project worked to change that thinking.
A team of a dozen volunteers from Home Depot worked alongside faculty and students from life science classes to revive the school's Serenity Garden.
"You think alternative school, you think bad children," said Debra Medlin, who led the volunteer effort for Home Depot. "These are really good children if you give them the time."
Mrs. Medlin, who normally works as a flooring specialist, said she hopes the project demonstrates to the students teamwork and people from the community coming together to show they care.
The garden tucked inside an interior courtyard was renovated to feature new flower beds, brick edging, painted benches, bird baths and a three-tier fountain.
"It makes me feel like part of something," said Tiquanya Jones, 14, as she painted a bench.
She said the school isn't "bad," but simply has students who made bad decisions.
"I get to do something constructive," Tiquanya said of the garden.
Barclay Hubbs, one of the volunteers, said she has been moved by the work done at the school.
"This is a well-deserving project. This school doesn't get a lot of attention," she said.
The intent is to "show them that somebody actually does care about them," Ms. Hubbs said.
The project will do more than beautify the school, Principal Wayne Frazier said. It will also boost the self-esteem of students and enable them to take ownership in the school.
"Not just children, any human being wants to be recognized for something positive," he said.
Working with the volunteers also exposes the students to caring adults, Dr. Frazier said.
The alternative school uses the garden as a place where students go to calm down and reflect if they've misbehaved in class, Dr. Frazier said.
The project wasn't the first time Home Depot worked with the alternative school. Dr. Frazier formed a partnership when he asked the business to speak with his students about job opportunities. Not all students will graduate and go to college, and Home Depot has a strong employee training program, he said.
Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or firstname.lastname@example.org.