Walking down the hallways at Chapin Elementary, Wylie Stephenson is assailed by memories of the past - and visions of the future.
More than three decades ago, Stephenson walked around Chapin Elementary in much smaller shoes, as a student when the school was first opened in the late 1970s.
Today, he wears construction boots as he supervises the renovations and additions to his elementary alma mater, the school that sits just on the other side of the woods from his home and where his son, Trey, attends first grade - and where his 3-year-old twins will go.
"I was in the first graduating class from this school that attended kindergarten through seventh grade here," said Stephenson. "I still have the diploma somewhere."
Being in the school on a daily basis has caused a resurgence of memories long forgotten. For example, he walked past his third-grade classroom recently and remembered one day when two friends collided into one another as one walked out of the bathroom, bloodying one of their noses.
"I remember us burying a time capsule that no one else remembers," Stephenson said.
That memory has captured current principal Harriet Wilson's attention. "We are trying to find out where the time capsule was buried so that we can open it as part of the celebration of the completion of the renovations at CES," Wilson said.
The construction project at Chapin is due to be completed in August. Between now and then, Stephenson will oversee the following projects:
- Add kindergarten classrooms
- Expand the cafeteria
- Improve student drop-off and pick-up traffic lines
- Improve lighting outside of school
- Add fire sprinklers and fire-related exit corridors
- Add walls and define classrooms
- Redesign media center and guidance areas
- Renovate bathrooms
- Allow for better handicap accessibility
- Improve acoustics in cafeteria and gym
- Renovate and add one serving line to cafeteria
- Renovate science classrooms and special education rooms
Until the additions and renovations are completed at Chapin Elementary, Stephenson gets what will perhaps be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of working seconds from his home, while his son sits a few feet away each day.
"There's a little more pressure on making it be right," Stephenson said with a smile. "A lot of teachers I had are still here, and my kids are going to be going here for years. I always have pride in my work, but this one - I take it up a notch."
Wilson is excited to have someone with Stephenson's connections to the school supervising the construction. "I knew that he had ownership and commitment in the project," Wilson said.
"Wylie has done a great job of keeping the school informed of the progression of the construction. He has been a true professional and an excellent advocate for our school."
- Lezlie Patterson for Lexington-Richland 5