Hogg Middle School is seeing a revival, with attendance numbers through the roof in their Heights home; not to mention that a large-scale project aimed at enhancing the school’s existing programs is now underway. Parents and staff hope their “Hogg Outdoors” project will move quickly, soon ushering in a new basketball court, field, track, and more.
Hogg Outdoors is an over-arching plan to renovate and beautify Hogg’s outdoor campus. Part of the project will include new outdoor seating, scoreboard, baseball/ softball cages and irrigation to keep the fields green.
The project will also include additions to the community garden, such as eight new raised garden beds, and Equipment storage shed, compost station, irrigation and rainwater catchment, outdoor kitchen and gazebo.
Learn Local — a Heights-based community nonprofit — along with Hogg families, Spark and the Heights community have already raised more than $140,000 toward the initiative.
“[Parents] have been excited to have a place to go on the weekends even if they don’t have kids at Hogg,” Adrienne Schwartz said. “And if they do, they’re excited kids will be able to play sports a little safer and be able to really utilize this campus.”
The thought, Schwartz noted, bloomed after one seventh-grade football coach would not play a game on the school’s field due to its conditions, and just sprouted wings of its own after that.
“It had just become extremely run down, so principal Sugarek convened with staff and parents from the community to put a full-size football field and full-size track, and that’s when it all started,” she said.
However, the school still needs additional donors to help achieve the vision for Hogg Middle School and the community. Schwartz said only $15,000 separates Learn Local and Hogg from meeting their Phase 1 goals. In addition to paying for the basics, Learn Local and Hogg would like to raise an additional $35,000 to include add-ons like acrylic surfacing on the basketball court and more permanent baseball cages.
Now that Phase 1 is underway, the design and fundraising push has also begun for for Phase 2 – a playground for ages 5-12. Once complete, it would be accessible to the community after school hours and on weekends.
Schwartz said she will likely use NextDoor as an avenue of community feedback for the playground. Much of the feedback will be considered based on feasibility and the budget from fundraising.
“Our goal in launching the renovation of the outdoor spaces around Hogg M.S. is to create vibrant learning spaces for our students on the grounds around our historic building,” Hogg Principal Angela Sugarek said. “I have been blown away by the community support for this initiative and am extremely excited to be part of re-SPARKing the field area. The original SPARK park design was never completed, and thanks to our continued partnership with SPARK, the field, track and basketball courts will be available for community use outside of school hours. Adding the playground will mean that local children can start learning at Hogg long before they are ready for middle school.”
Phase 1 is tentatively scheduled for completion by the end of the fall semester, after which work on Phase 2 – provided funding has come through – will commence.
“We want it to be used by Hogg students, and also by kids in the neighborhood,” Schwartz said.
Enrollment at Hogg has risen to its highest level in nearly two decades – so much so that the school has been forced to wait list a few students due to sheer capacity. Thus, it is only fitting that the Razorbacks have facilities to match.
“We’re trying to match the exterior facilities to the quality of teaching and programs that Hogg provides. It’s a great school for kids in the area to go to, and there are several feeder schools coming here that used to go outside the neighborhood,” Schwartz said. “Between Learn Local and Hogg’s efforts, the school has transformed. We’re trying to bring the facilities up to match that transformation.”
To learn more about the Learn Local as well the Hogg Outdoors project and donate, go to Learn Local’s website for Hogg Middle School, and click on the “Donations” tab. Interested donors can also contact Schwartz for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.