Just in time for the first day of school, the doors at Cranston High School East have undergone a major facelift thanks to the efforts of members of the community.
The project was spearheaded earlier in the summer by Jim Carr, an East graduate from the class of 1981. Carr had attended a school event in the springtime and noticed that the doors, while majestic and historic, were badly in need of repairs and general maintenance.
Fearing that the doors could be replaced at some point in the future by something less historic in nature if not taken care of now, Carr put out a call to colleagues, friends, fellow alumni, current staff, students, and local business owners asking for any help they were willing to give. The outpouring of support he received for the project was nothing short of amazing, as is the final product.
“It was a much bigger project than I expected, but it also came out so much better than I expected,” he said. “Almost everyone who said they would volunteer actually did come and volunteer. The administration’s response was awesome, because at any point along the way, if anyone had said no to any part of this, we couldn’t have done it.”
Carr and his crew of volunteers gathered together over two weekend days in August, and several came again throughout the following week to finish up the final details, working hard to get the doors finished in time for the start of the new school year.
“There was a door that often stuck, it swelled in the humidity and it often had to be pulled. That had actually separated, and we were able to fix that,” he said. “We had two alumni who were carpenters, and they were a great help, too, with their expertise.”
The crew of volunteers spent much of Saturday, Aug. 20 sanding the heavy wooden doors, and much of Sunday, Aug. 21 varnishing them. However, the project expanded into painting the trim around the window panes above, using a vibrant Cranston East Thunderbolt Emerald green, and painting a bright strip down the center to match. Emerald green numbers were placed above the doors, and even the light fixture was given some detailing. Carr also made an American flag to adorn the front entryway.
“We could not have done this without the help and donations of our local businesses. They really stepped up. Anything we needed, we got,” he said. “This project could’ve easily cost the district anywhere between $6,000 and $8,000. That’s all money that can be put back into programming because these doors no longer need to be replaced. The ROTC program is going to be maintaining them yearly.”
As volunteer, alumna, and staff member Carmen Ruggieri pointed out, the project was not only a great way to reconnect with others, but a great way to create a truly grand entrance for Cranston East.
“It was a good effort, it was a lot of fun catching up, and it’s really a showstopper now,” she said.