The Joplin campus of the James River Church will partner with the Joplin School District on Saturday to help renovate and repair the former Duenweg Elementary School.
The project is part of the church’s “Project Partnership,” an initiative that has been going on for 21 years. This will be the first project between the church, which opened its Joplin campus in fall 2018, and Joplin Schools.
It is expected to draw approximately 1,200 total volunteers who will help with repair work in several schools across Springfield and Joplin, including 150 at the Duenweg site.
“We see this as a good time to branch out to the community and let them know we care,” said Justin Jahanshir, pastor of the Joplin campus. “When students and teachers come back to this facility, we want it to be something they can be proud of.”
The former Duenweg Elementary School is preparing to become a Joplin School District education center after having served as an elementary school from 1959 to 2014. The school, which was incorporated into the Joplin district in 1965, also temporarily housed the early childhood development program from the mid-2010s until 2017.
Once the facility is renovated, it will be the home for Beacon, a program for students who need extra attention to help them integrate back into a classroom setting, as well as a support program that helps students with autism.
“These are amazing programs with excellent resources for these students,” said Dave Pettit, director of facilities and transportation for Joplin Schools. “We are proud to be able to house them in this new education center and expand them further.”
The renovation work on Duenweg began last summer with the building of additional classrooms and de-stress rooms for students who need to unwind, and other cosmetic work such as new lights and windows.
James River Church volunteers will help paint classrooms, spruce up landscaping, clean the hallways, and paint and power wash the parking lots. They also will freshen up the teachers lounge and administrative offices there.
“We’re very excited to get this project underway,” Jahanshir said. “With the Joplin branch still being new to the area, we hope to do our part to help the city in any way we can. We want to let the parents, teachers, students and administrators know that we are here to help in any way that we can.”
Pettit also is excited about the project.
“We’re all looking forward to making the facility look the best it can,” he said. “We’ve been in the Duenweg community for years and hope to continue to be a part of it for years to come. This facility will allow us to do that.”