Hernando pavilion and classroom

A ribbon cutting for the new outdoor classroom at Hernando High recognized the community effort it took to construct it. The outdoor classroom and pavilion was constructed through the efforts of the Leadership DeSoto Project 5 class.

A new pavilion at Hernando High School that will double as an outdoor classroom for students as well as a gathering place for alumni and other groups, was dedicated by school officials and faculty Tuesday, along with members of the Leadership DeSoto team that helped shape and fund it.

"This is awesome," said Hernando High School Assistant Principal Malinda White, who was on hand for the dedication. "The kids are tickled to death. The teachers love it."

Hernando High School Principal Duane Case said the new pavilion will be put to good use and already served as a focal point for the Senior Class of 2018 to gather and enjoy an outdoor picnic.

"It's multifunctional," Case said. "We can use it as an outdoor classroom and as a place for students to gather and get out of the elements. The first day of school, we had it loaded up with kids and food. It means a lot to the kids. Our ultimate goal is to have benches and chairs and use this as an outdoor classroom."

Case praised the Leadership DeSoto Team and a host of corporate sponsors who made the outdoor pavilion possible.

"This is not the work of one or two persons but it's a great team effort," Case said. "That's what makes Hernando special. While we are growing by leaps and bounds, it's still projects like these that bring people together. There is a long list of people we want to thank."

Cynthia Bigham with Leadership DeSoto Project Group 5 said the Leadership group wanted to do a project that would continue to make an impact for generations to come.

"We were looking at a different project for a kids' project in our community," Bigham said. "We decided that we would take this on as a project."

Bigham said the Leadership DeSoto group received a $1,500 grant from Walmart, $4,500 from the Hernando Optimist Club, and $500 from Fairway Mortgage and Community Bank, along with a $1,000 contribution from Brian Hall with Cerebrus Construction.

"We had Murray Haslip come out and move some trees," Bigham added. "It took about a week."

Bigham said the project's construction was done in conjunction with the operations of the Grub Hub at Hernando High School.

The Grub Hub is comprised of HHS students who are part of the school's Occupational Diploma program. Among other things, the group makes outdoor planters for sale.

"With it being here in conjunction with the Grub Hub, it will help generations to come," Bigham said. "They were in need of an outdoor classroom."

Susan Fernandez, Member Services Manager for the DeSoto County Economic Development Council, which oversees the Leadership DeSoto program, said Leadership DeSoto will be celebrating its silver anniversary this year, the week of Nov. 17, and pointed to projects like the pavilion as a shining example of a project which impacts the community.

"This is a project they have worked on tirelessly since the beginning of November of last year," Fernandez said. "Classes for years to come will be able to enjoy this for years to come. What started as a vision for the Grub Hub to be able to sell their wares outdoors will now be an outdoor classroom and used for a variety of uses."

Robert Lee Long is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at rlong@desototimestribune.com or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.

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