Jenks Public Schools cuts the ribbon on Rentie Grove project

Jenks Public Schools cuts the ribbon on Rentie Grove project

Administrators and staff members from Jenks Public Schools, along with construction and design partners, hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday for the recently completed low-water crossing which connects the walking trail between Jenks East Elementary and Jenks East Intermediate.

The outdoor learning trail, originally completed in 1993, was used for many years to teach students about Oklahoma’s history and environmental science. A flood washed away the low-water crossing, the connection between the two school sites was gone, and the path became overgrown and in need of restoration. In 2018, a volunteer-based committee of parents, teachers, and community members, was formed to re-envision the area, restore historical markers, and re-establish the connection between the schools.

The construction of the low-water crossing is one of the steps JPS is taking to restore the original outdoor learning trails between the two school sites while seeking to honor the historical significance of the area. East Elementary and East Intermediate sit on the original townsite of Rentie Grove, an African American community established before Oklahoma statehood. The town included a school, post office, businesses, churches, and family homes. The new low-water crossing ensures many future generations of students will learn of the history and cultural significance of Rentie Grove and its citizens.

“The completion of this project would not be possible without the dedication of our committee members and the overwhelming support of our community,” stated Dr. Stacey Butterfield, Superintendent of Jenks Public Schools. “Rentie Grove is a crucial part of our city’s history and it is important for our district to honor the past while providing opportunities for our students to learn and grow outside of the traditional classroom space. We are so grateful to all those who played a part in helping us turn this vision into reality.”

While the volunteer committee has worked with civil engineers, landscape architects, and construction professional to develop a design to revitalize the entire Rentie Grove area, a team of teachers is finalizing a curriculum to help students engage in the history of Rentie Grove and provide opportunities to explore the science-related features of an outdoor learning environment.

“It has been exciting to see how our community has come together over the last few years to make sure this project was done the right way,” remarked Jeff Beyer, Director of Construction Services at Jenks Public Schools. “We continue to seek guidance from former Rentie Grove community members and relatives of past residents, and everyone involved in this project recognizes the importance of connecting the past to the present. We are thrilled to officially open this low-water crossing for the benefit of our students and our entire community.”

The low-water crossing was designed by Wallace Engineering, and GH2 Architects designed the overall site’s masterplan. Construction was coordinated by LDKerns Contractors.

Jenks East Intermediate students walk across the new low water crossing area connecting Jenks East Intermediate with Jenks East Elementary through the historic Rentie Grove Trail. Photos/Kyle Salomon
Students prepare to cut the ribbon.
Jenks Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Stacey Butterfield speaks to the crowd Tuesday.

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