The Heart of WES

6-10 WES Atrium

At the heart of Wallingford Elementary School is a courtyard, surrounded on four sides by windowed walls, yet strangely unlovely and unused. Recently, WES students, families, educators, and community members have come together to plan and execute a beautification project of the center courtyard space of the school.

WES’s Parent-Teacher Organization supported the idea, and WES parent Mario Gentile, founder & CEO of Shift_Design (which specializes in landscape, product and urban design), designed an atrium to replace the courtyard, intended to provide WES students with a quiet, beautiful, natural space for learning.

The WES community contributed $16,000 toward the project through a PTO initiated “WE LOVE WES” campaign this spring.

As part of his Eagle Scout project, Strath Haven High School student and WES alumnus George Hollyer of Wallingford signed on to coordinate the efforts of members of Rose Valley Boy Scout Troop #272 and other members of the WES community in realizing the vision.

George said, “I think WES is a great school, and I wanted to give something back to it. WES needed more green space, and I always thought the courtyard was an eyesore.” On a May weekend, Scouts, parents, Mario Gentile and crew, WES Principal Joshua Peterkin and PTO Chair Liz Orye completed the first phase of the atrium transformation project.

Removal of approximately 30 tons of river rock and mulch from the old courtyard was daunting, and on the second day, George said, “There was a bit of rain, and people were feeling a bit glum. It was a challenge to keep morale up.” The mixed crew did a power of work, and George and the Scouts will finish their portion of the project with another day and a half of labor following the school year. The atrium will be ready to welcome learners and teachers in September. Photo courtesy of Liz Orye 

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