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Former student returns to renovate outdoor classroom at Russom for Eagle Scout badge
by Bill Baldowski
August 05, 2014 02:01 PM | 1835 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Samantha M. Shal<br>East Paulding Middle School eighth-grader Johnathan Sartain, 13, completed his Eagle Scout project by refurbishing the outdoor classroom at Russom Elementary School, which he attended.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal
East Paulding Middle School eighth-grader Johnathan Sartain, 13, completed his Eagle Scout project by refurbishing the outdoor classroom at Russom Elementary School, which he attended.
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Johnathan Sartain’s parents Pam and John Sartain helped him complete his Eagle Scout project at Russom Elementary.
Johnathan Sartain’s parents Pam and John Sartain helped him complete his Eagle Scout project at Russom Elementary.
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Staff / Samantha M. Shal<br>From left, custodian Robert Fortner, Assistant Principal Libby Bell and Principal Ashley Anderson are grateful for Johnathan Sartain's Eagle Scout project in which he refurbished the outdoor classroom at Russom Elementary.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal
From left, custodian Robert Fortner, Assistant Principal Libby Bell and Principal Ashley Anderson are grateful for Johnathan Sartain's Eagle Scout project in which he refurbished the outdoor classroom at Russom Elementary.
slideshow
Special Photo<br>Before Sartain began his work, the outdoor classroom at Russom Elementary was in disrepair. His Eagle Scout project included adding mulch and borders, reinforcing the benches and replanting the flower boxes.
Special Photo
Before Sartain began his work, the outdoor classroom at Russom Elementary was in disrepair. His Eagle Scout project included adding mulch and borders, reinforcing the benches and replanting the flower boxes.
slideshow
The motto of Russom Elementary School in Dallas is, “Make an Impact, Leave an Impression.”

A former student at the school, Johnathan Sartain, who is now an eighth-grader at East Paulding Middle School, has taken that motto and made a definite impact at the school in a very positive and visible way.

The 13-year-old son of John and Ann Sartain is a Boy Scout working on achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. With the help of his family and members of his Boy Scout Troop 1916, he renovated Russom’s open-air classroom.

The classroom was built in 2005, also as a Boy Scout project of another troop, but had fallen into disrepair and become unusable.

As a former student, Johnathan was familiar with the outdoor classroom and, although he said he hated to see it in such disrepair, never thought about renovating it.

That opportunity came recently as he considered projects he needed to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.

“I had originally discussed with the school’s principal about constructing a butterfly garden on the school grounds as my project,” Johnathan said. “As we were looking at places for the garden, I thought more and more about renovating the outdoor classroom so the school could use it again.”

With the help of his family and other members of his troop, Johnathan used donated materials such as lumber to border the outdoor classroom so it would be maintenance free. He also replaced the student benches inside, spread mulch on the ground throughout the 45-foot by 25-foot area and replanted flowers in the two flower beds.

In addition, Johnathan and his troop built a new podium for the classroom.

The renovation project took an entire day to complete but was ready for the school to use when classes started Monday.

Russom Principal Ashley Anderson joined her teachers and others in praising Johnathan for his work.

“How wonderful it is to have the outdoor classroom back for our students,” Anderson said. “Anything one can do to get these kids engaged and excited about learning is just great and being able to take them outdoors and use the outdoor classroom will be a huge asset for our school.”

Russom Assistant Principal Libby Bell called Johnathan an amazing young man.

“How exciting it is for a former student to come back and give back to the school in this way,” she said.

Kelly Loner, Jonathan’s first-grade teacher at the school, was not surprised by his volunteerism.

“He was always the first to volunteer when anyone in the class needed help,” she said.

His fifth-grade teacher, April Bentley, said Johnathan “is a great kid who comes from a great family.”

“I loved watching him grow into a fine young man in his last year at Russom,” she said.

Johnathan said the next step is to dedicate the refurbished outdoor classroom and he has asked the school’s PTA to come up with a name.

“As soon as they decide on a name, I will have a plaque made and have an official dedication,” he said.

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