B.L. Gray Jr. High unveils new outdoor roofs

B.L. Gray Junior High School students returning to school from the winter break will get to enjoy a new roof in the patio area.

Monday, Dec. 16, 2019, the campus held a red-ribbon cutting ceremony in honor of the outdoor roofs that will provide shade and cover to students from the weather-thanks to multiple sponsors and a donation from a local construction firm.

B.L. Gray Junior High School Principal Ericka “Julie” Carranza (center) surrounded by community members at the red-ribbon cutting ceremony for the campus’ new outdoor roofs. Progress Times photo by Jose De Leon III.

“When we started the school year, the goal was to have a fabric awning in the patio area outside the cafeteria due to the cost,” B.L. Gray Principal Ericka “Julie” Carranza said. “But SPTSO met with LUTZA construction on this project and they offered us a metal roof at half the price which was awesome for us, we were able to get it done in six weeks.”

SPTSO, or the Sharyland Parents, Teachers Students Organization, is an organization composed of teachers, parents and students who go out into the community seeking sponsors and donors to help raise funds for projects that are not part of the school’s budget. According to Carranza, the organization was able to raise $10,000 from sponsors and fundraising while the Palmview-based Lutza Consulting & Construction Firm chipped in the rest of the $23,000 project.

“One of our values in our company is to give back to the community, so once in a while we do different projects like this to help,” Linda Suarez, CEO of Lutza said. “So when SPTSO presented us this project and explained how they were working so hard to get a roof, we sat down with them to discuss it. At the beginning they wanted a fabric roof, but we analyzed to see how we could help and thought it would be more beneficial to make them a metal roof and we covered the rest.”

This donation is the first Lutza made to a school district, Suarez said.

“When students waited for the bus, they only had a small area lined up against the cafeteria and the patio area as shade,” Suarez said. “Now they have a shaded area connecting the 7th and 8th grade classes to the patio to provide more and protection from the weather.”

The $10,000 donation from SPTSO was made via 27 sponsors and the sale of hoodies, SPTSO President Edna Ramon said. A check was presented to the campus last October and the project broke ground the following month.

“Lutzo gave us a huge discount, without them, this wouldn’t have happened,” Ramon said. “It’s a perfect project and we’re happy this has happened.”

The roof project is one that Carranza had been trying to finalize since she was named principal at B.L. Gray two years ago, she said. With the project finalized, SPTSO will now work on fundraising to have 30 chrome books per classroom by the end of the school year.

“All this support from the community has been great, I thought this would take a full year to finish the roof project but we got it done in weeks,” Carranza said. “It shows people they care about this community because it benefits their students. This roof will be here forever.” 

This article originally appeared in the Friday Jan. 10, 2020 issue of the Progress Times.

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