Etched into the bricks of this new structure is a heartfelt message, “This pavilion is dedicated to the Bethesda Family - past, present and future - with love, from the 2017-18 PTA.” It’s no wonder that this sweet gem of a school inspired its PTA Board to take on the task of raising money, obtaining the required permits, and building this outdoor classroom.
Bethesda Elementary School, located on Bethesda School Road in Lawrenceville, was established in 1905 with one large classroom and one teacher. The school was heated by a pot-bellied stove, and water for the students came from a spring. The students came from farming families, so the school calendar was organized around the planting and gathering of crops. From its modest beginning, Bethesda Elementary School has grown and changed along with the community it serves. Today, Bethesda is one of the larger elementary schools in the county, with 60 classrooms, over 1,000 students, and 166 staff members. Students come from over 30 countries and speak more than 28 different languages. The students are hard-working, polite, and appreciative, and the teachers and administrators are dedicated, caring, and generous with their time and talents. This environment inspired the PTA Board to build this pavilion to serve as an outdoor classroom and provide much-needed shade on the playground.
To raise money for this project, the PTA sold bricks, which were then engraved by Sharon and Chris Constant of Constant Rock Art, who drove all the way from their home in South Dakota to help with this project. Sponsors’ brick messages include inspirational quotes, dedications to favorite teachers, salutes to Bethesda students and graduates, and tributes in memory of loved ones. The PTA Board sponsored a brick in honor of Dr. Pam Williams, the principal, who received her doctorate at UGA in May of this year. Dr. Williams sponsored a brick with a message that reads, “Dedicated to an Amazing Staff.” These bricks reflect the attitude of mutual respect and appreciation that is common throughout the Bethesda community.
The PTA thanks corporate sponsors who generously supported this project, GCPS Facilities Personnel, especially Jay Crossman, who provided technical guidance, Chris and Sharon Constant who engraved bricks into the wee hours of the morning to prepare for the ribbon cutting, Toney Clower and his team of Clower Construction, who worked throughout the hot summer to make sure the pavilion was ready when school started in August, and the Bethesda community, who sponsored bricks and came out to celebrate the ribbon cutting on September 22nd. As a result of their generosity and collaboration, this outdoor classroom will stand for generations to come as a tribute to the historically rich past, the culturally diverse present, and the promisingly bright future of Bethesda Elementary School
2017-2018 PTA Board members: Lesli Seta, Ann Malkoc, Junita Harris, Yahaira Rosa Serrano, Akilah Grant, Katie Becker, and Tanesha Richards