Community Pitches in for RWA Facelift

Volunteer painters Jeff and Allison Spires and Rhetta Taylor put the finishing touches on a classroom at Richard Winn Academy. (Photo/Barbara Ball)

Volunteer painters Jeff and Allison Spires and Rhetta Taylor put the finishing touches on a classroom at Richard Winn Academy. (Photo/Barbara Ball)

WINNSBORO (Aug. 4, 2016) – Already sporting a new head football coach, new girls’ basketball coach and a new head of school, the Richard Winn Academy building itself is going to have a new look when classes start Aug. 11.

Since accepting the job as Head of School in the spring, Brandy Mullennax has thrown herself into a two- month whirlwind of overseeing a major renovation of the school, which consumed the better part of June and July. But oversight was just one part of the job. Mullennax also pulled together volunteers, donors and rolled up her own sleeves to get the job done before the start of the new school year and under budget – way under budget.

“In addition to our actual costs, we would have had additional expenses of about $20,000 had the RWA community not stepped in to paint, repair and donate money, equipment and supplies,” Mullennax said.

“We couldn’t have done this without those volunteers and donors. It’s been seven days a week for the last two months. We’ve painted most of the interior of the school and brought the school colors in to brighten the hallways. Everyone has pitched in to do something. K4 student Avery Warren was up here painting hallways alongside her parents Todd and Reid,” she said.

Some teachers painted their own rooms while RWA family, friends and students painted and fixed up other areas including the administrative offices, hallways, classrooms, gym and outside areas. There’s also a new awning at the entrance to the school.

“We’ve renovated some locker rooms and restrooms, made major roof repairs, replaced air conditioning units, added an Early Learning Center with infant and toddler rooms, added fencing to the playground . . . the list is long,” Mullennax said with a weary smile. But she said there is more to do – more painting, more air conditioners to be replaced, the back side of the gym roof needs replacing and more restrooms need to be renovated. Mullennax said some of these needs will have to wait, however, until she can come up with more funds.

“It’s been an extraordinary effort,” she said. “These people (volunteers) are tireless.”

“But it was Mullennax who planned and guided the project and provided the energy behind it,” RWA staff member Martha Ladd told The Voice. Indeed, Mullennax recruited volunteers from near and far, including her Lugoff neighbor, Glenn Smith, who donated over $1,000 in labor to patch drywall and repair ceilings.

With all the tearing out, painting and replacing over the summer, the school was a mess by mid-July. Workers and visitors could hardly get through the hallways to their work stations. But Mullennax said she is confident the building is going to look great when the students arrive for the new school year.

“The renovation was truly a community effort,” Mullennax said. “It’s amazing how they transformed the school on a shoestring budget in such a short time. And we at the school are grateful.”