Various projects at 16 Wilkes County schools have been funded with over $325,000 from the Stone Foundation’s “Wilkes Wishing Well” initiative.
This second annual round of “Wishing Well” grants from the Stone Foundation was supplemented with a $100,000 grant from Lowe’s Companies Inc. Technology, improved media centers, STEM education and facility improvements are among projects funded at schools this year.
The Stone Foundation is led by Larry and Diane Stone and their sons, Larry Stone Jr. and Chris Stone. The week before winter break, Larry and Diane Stone made surprise visits to each selected school to inform them their wish had been granted.
Larry Stone Sr., Lowe’s president and chief operating officer when he retired from the company in 2011, said the goal of the Wishing Well initiative is to have a direct impact on students.
Stone added, “We would like to thank Lowe’s for their continued support of education in Wilkes and for their contribution to the Wishing Well Project which enabled us to support more schools and students in Wilkes County.”
Jennifer Weber, Lowe’s executive vice president of human resources and chair of the Lowe’s Foundation, stated, “We are proud to partner with Larry Stone and his family and continue our long-standing commitment to education and workforce development in Wilkes County. This grant announcement will help more of our young people access the tools and resources to help them build even brighter futures.”
A message on Wishing Well applications states, “We need you to dream and share those dreams with us. If it can improve education in your school, dream it.” With this year’s gifts, the Wilkes Wishing Well has provided more than $500,000 in grants.
C.B. Eller, Millers Creek and Mount Pleasant elementary schools received grants for touchscreen Chromebook computers for students. The devices actively engage students, while providing access to information and allowing students to practice skills for 21st century assessments. Beginning in 2019, all students in fourth and fifth grades to take assessments online.
Millers Creek Principal Rebecca Mastin said, “Students need many opportunities to practice and become familiar with online assessment programs in order to be prepared for their high-stake assessments. Without daily access, students do not have the much-needed time to become successful online assessors.”
Central Wilkes Middle School received a grant to update books in its media center, including new books of fiction, STEM reading materials and audio books.
A new door fob security system was funded at East Wilkes Middle School, replacing a keypad door system to allow teachers and staff quicker entry into the building.
Funds were provided for additional resources for Moravian Falls Elementary School’ “La Escuelita,” a mobile unit in Country Square Mobile Home Park used for after school programs. These resources include tools to help students have study privacy, a listening station with books on CD to help bilingual students and new books.
Mulberry Elementary School will remodel its media center to create a more inspiring 21st century learning environment for students and staff with its grant. This includes new bookshelves, carpet and lighting.
North Wilkesboro Elementary School will introduce the Second Steps program with its grant. This program teaches students ways to cope with social and emotional issues.
North Wilkes High School received funds for buying supplies to create a STEAM lab to help students better understand the engineering design process. STEAM lessons there will emphasize hands-on inquiry, student-centered learning, teamwork and rigor.
A grant awarded to Ronda-Clingman Elementary School will be used to install central air conditioning in the gym.
Traphill Elementary School received a grant to purchase touchscreen Chromebooks and technology resources to teach students computational thinking and engineering principles.
Funds awarded to West Wilkes High School will be used to buy new bookcases, carpet, furniture and books as part of remodeling the media center to provide an open space with adaptable furniture that can be arranged according to student learning needs.
West Wilkes Middle School will use its grant to buy new TI-84 graphing calculators and Scholastic reading book sets for students.
Wilkes Central High School will use its grant to install malleable seating equipment for one of its math classrooms to provide a learning environment that better adapts needs of all students.
Wilkes Early College High School received a grant to create a new cafeteria space. This will include new microwaves, new seating, centralized trash and recycling receptacles and improving the overall environment.
Wilkesboro Elementary School received assistance for phase one of new playground equipment. This phase will include removing parts of current playground equipment and adding new separate freestanding components to provide new play spaces for students. For phase two, the Stone Foundation offered to match money raised up to $40,000 toward completing the project.