Niles Cedar Lane partners with Lowe’s to make building and landscaping upgrades

NILES — A week before the school year started, administrators at Cedar Lane made a big move and transferred operations from 2301 Niles Buchanan Road to the former Oak Manor Sixth Grade Center, 1 Tyler St.

The building, renamed Niles Cedar Lane, will house Cedar Lane students, Niles Community School administration and the W-A-Y program. While they have just begun to settle into their new home, students, staff and partners with Lowe’s are already working to put a new and improved mark on the building and grounds.

On Wednesday staff and Cedar Lane students partnered with Lowe’s to make a number of upgrades inside and out. Students put in new landscaping, including planters, two trees and three picnic tables. Inside the school, they installed new blinds, locks for their lockers and school posters about “How to be a Viking.”

The project is part of Lowe’s Hero Program, which awards up to $2,500 for improvements. The funds helped to cover the cost of materials, as well as a donation of snow shovels and rakes, which will be used during community projects that students frequently take part in. Six employees from the Niles Lowe’s volunteered their time Wednesday to help students complete renovations. Landscaping rock was donated by American Aggregates and delivered to the school for free by Trent Babcock at AJL Total Property Maintenance.

John Fonash, Cedar Lane’s principal, said one of the primary focuses of the project is making the front entrance on the west side of the building look more welcoming. He said he was glad to see students getting involved in the upgrades.

“This has been a big move for them and a big change,” Fonash said. “I just love how they are all embracing the work here in such a positive way.”

Fonash credited Jeanie Bradley, a secretary for Cedar Lane, for getting connected with Lowe’s representatives and bringing the Hero Program to the school. He said he looks forward to the opportunities that students at Cedar Lane will have to be good neighbors to their Oak Manor community.

Before students and staff made the move earlier this year, the former Oak Manor building was subject to a number of improvements supported by the 2015 construction bond. Some of these new features include security and safety upgrades. At 1:30 p.m. Oct. 10, students and staff will celebrate the completion of construction with a re-dedication ceremony. 

Darla Schneider, the volunteer coordinator for the Niles Community Schools District, said the project is likely to instill a sense of pride in students’ new building. 

“They are so gung ho,” Schneider said. “[There] is ownership in it, because number one they are going to take pride in it.”

Cedar Lane student Kassidy Johnson helped to plant mums in a bright shade of yellow Wednesday. Johnson said she was happy for the relocation because it put Cedar Lane students closer to their community. She said people who visit Niles Cedar Lane are likely to notice students’ hard work.

“People will see we are improving the appearance,” Johnson said. “We’ve planted some trees and potted flowers. [We] are just trying to improve the outside view of the school.”

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