Silver Chips Online

Blair PTSA continues bench project

Blair Beautiful attempts to make Blair welcoming and safe by adding benches

By Sarika Ramaswamy, Staff Writer
October 25, 2012
This year, Blair Beautiful, a Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) committee dedicated to improving the school's landscape, aims to complete the Blair Bench Project, which places benches around the campus. Through the project, the group hopes to make Blair a more welcome and safe environment.

Junior Nick Porter and freshmen Susana Perez and Adina Rombro have a conversation on one of the benches from the Blair Beautiful Group's bench project. Isabel Hendrix
Junior Nick Porter and freshmen Susana Perez and Adina Rombro have a conversation on one of the benches from the Blair Beautiful Group's bench project.
Blair Beautiful started the project last year. Before initiating the project, there was only one bench at Blair located near the Labyrinth at the intersection of University Boulevard and Colesville Road. Without benches around the rest of the school, students had to sit on the sidewalk or the curb of the road. "This endangered student safety and did not create a welcoming vibe for the school," Wynn Witthans, Chair of Blair Beautiful, said. "How can you have a campus with 3,000 students everyday and no place to sit outside?"

The project purchases steel benches from furnishings manufacturing company Victor Stanley, which is based in Denton, Md., after gathering donations from Blair supporters. Sports teams, parents and students donate money towards buying a bench and dedicating it to a team, teacher or student. Each bench costs between $800 and $1,200, and multiple donations can be used to procure one bench.

The first of the benches was installed in June; parents donated to a bench near the rainscape on University Blvd, and the Green Club and the PTSA each donated money to install two benches by the school's Colesville entrance. Last year, Blair Beautiful created rainscape gardens, and in the future the group hopes to enhance the senior courtyard. However, Blair Beautiful wants to first raise money for six or seven more benches so there is one bench located near each public entrance to the school.

The project received support from both administration and students. "Last year was a breakout year for us," Witthans said. "We had support from [principal Renay Johnson], [Blair Business Manager Jim Funk] and clubs like Horticulture Club and Dream Club. We hope to have strong support this year too."

Junior Amalia Perez waits on the new bench near Blair's rain garden. Isabel Hendrix
Junior Amalia Perez waits on the new bench near Blair's rain garden.
The benches were welcomed by students tired of sitting on the curb while waiting for friends or rides home. "I love the fact that they put benches. It's great because I have somewhere to sit when I'm waiting for my parents instead of sitting on the floor or having to wait inside," junior Emanuel Cerón said.

The benches are especially helpful to students who participate in afterschool clubs and sports like Cerón, who would like even more benches around campus. "The best location for the next bench would be right in front of the turf field. That way, kids can wait for rides after a long game," he said.

Blair Beautiful hopes to spread word of the Bench project through the parent List Serv and the PTSA newsletter. The group is also looking for more volunteers to help landscape and beautify Blair.

Click here to donate to the Blair Bench Project.

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/11799