(Leonna Heuring, Staff)
"I think this going to be the start of something really awesome for us," said Lauren DeWitt, executive director of the SPS Foundation. "Whatever money we raise goes right back in to the district, which is why we're here."
In January, the Foundation launched its campaign to create the "Bulldog Walk of Honor" comprised of commemorative clay bricks featuring laser-engraved inscriptions.
A contribution of $100 for a 4-by-8-inch or $250 for an 8-by-8-inch entitles individuals or businesses to recognition on a brick paver in the "Bulldog Walk of Honor."
In its initial order, the fundraiser sold approximately 320 bricks, raising $28,000, according to DeWitt. Net proceeds of the project will allow the Foundation to expand its support of Sikeston R-6 teachers and students.
"We still have plenty more bricks to sell," DeWitt said. "We are always taking orders for the bricks."
Work on the site began in May, and the bricks began being placed this week in front of the high school's A building. At the center edge of the parking lot (facing Pine Street) a path leads to an octagon center enclosed by paver columns, which will include lights. The paver border doubles as seating for visitors.
"I want to give a huge shoutout to the maintenance department for Sikeston R-6. They are doing this entire project and we couldn't do it without them," DeWitt said.
Donnie Garner II, skilled maintenance worker for Sikeston R-6 School District, and Brent Trankler, summer maintenance worker, who were working on the project Wednesday, said it involves several steps.
"We started with the concrete edges," Garner said. "Underneath the columns are 18 inches of concrete footings so these will not move."
Underneath the laid bricks is a half-inch of real, crushed chat that's tamped down as a solid bottom.
"Then we have sand on top of that which gives us enough room to level our bricks out," Garner explained.
In all, five pallets of blank red bricks, two pallets of personalized bricks and one pallet of double-sized personalized bricks are being used for the project, Garner said.
Lights will also be added to the columns. The project is expected to wrap up before school begins in August, he said.
Garner and Trankler said their job also includes double-checking everyone's names are correct and that all bricks are placed.
"These are laser-engraved from a place in St. Louis and weather resistant, said Trankler, who works as the welding instructor for Sikeston Career and Technology Center during the school year.
"It's a lot of fun," Trankler said of the project. "It's an honor to work on it."
Garner, who is also a 1994 SHS alum, said he's proud to be working on the project.
"Thank you to the people who purchased bricks. It beautifies the landscape on the campus," Garner said.
According to Dewitt, families, businesses, civic and nonprofit organizations and several classes from SHS have purchased bricks. Some have purchased bricks as memorials, she said.
The 4-by-8 bricks have space for three lines of 18 characters, and the 8-by-8 bricks have space for six lines of 18 characters. Logos may also be laser-engraved on the bricks. So, for example, a business logo can be engraved on the brick, DeWitt said.
"The options are endless. You can seriously put anything and everything you want on them. They make great graduation gifts and last forever," DeWitt said.
Once the bricks are in place, DeWitt encouraged residents to go look and get ideas for future brick orders.
"You can make orders throughout the year, and when we get enough in place, we will make an order and everything will go in as quickly as possible," she said.
The bricks will be promoted during sporting events throughout the year, and another alumni mailing will go out in early fall and include information on how to order bricks. It will also include a form for easy accessibility for those who don't live in Sikeston, she said.
"We want to make this project complete because in the end, it helps our kids," DeWitt said. "We want to continue to provide the district with financial needs that come about. We want to help them to be better teachers and have better options in the classroom and excel in any way we can."
Order forms are available via a link on the Foundation's website, which can be accessed at www.sikestonr6.org and Facebook page: "Sikeston Public Schools Foundation."