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Franklin Elementary finishes third, still wins free paint in contest

By Andy Harris correspondent

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In this file photo, a paint sample taken from a large mixing tank. Franklin Elementary school will have receive 200 gallons of paint from Glidden after becoming a finalist in the nationwide colorful classroom contest.(Paul Tople/Akron Beacon Journal)

KENT: There will be more sweat equity required and the effort will take longer than expected, but Franklin Elementary will be receiving a paint makeover after all.

The school finished third in the Colorful Classrooms Contest sponsored by Glidden, receiving 19.1 percent (11,783 votes) as one of five finalists in the national contest.

Originally, only the contest winner was to receive a new paint job for their school, to be completed by a professional paint crew. However, after seeing the enthusiastic response to the concept by all of the participating schools, Glidden decided to award 200 gallons of paint to the four schools that did not win.

More than 320 schools nationwide entered, but Jefferson Elementary (Gallup, N.M.) won by a large margin with 44.5 percent of the votes. Franklin Elementary principal Todd Poole, along with teachers, students and community members, did everything they could go get the word out, but it was not enough to defeat Jefferson Elementary or runner-up Saltillo Elementary of Saltillo, Miss.

Still, Glidden decided that all five finalists would get a chance to give their school a new look. For Franklin, Saltillo, Monta Vista (Calif.) elementary schools and the Orion School of Atlanta, there will be no professional paint crews, but rather 200 gallons of free paint that they will have to apply on their own.

“We were down 9,000 votes or so going into the last day and had parents and students standing by the Kent State library, handing out fliers, going all out, telling people, 'We're Franklin, we're in your community, please support us and vote for us,' it was great," Poole said. "It was great to see kids go all out and that's what I'll take away from this.

People contacted relatives in Florida to ask them to vote and people were all over the place (helping.) I know they will love the final result when they see it."

There were some claims among participants and their community supporters of voting irregularities and potential cheating as the contest neared an end, but nothing became of the allegations and Poole said everyone associated with the Franklin effort worked to remain positive and not worry about any of the alleged improprieties.

Their diligence was rewarded when Glidden contacted Poole and informed him of the decision to donate paint to all of the finalists. From there, the challenge shifted from trying to win to figuring out which colors to select and what paint scheme to use for the building and each individual classrooms.

Conversations with district officials, parents and teaches have initiated the process of picking the right colors to adorn the building's walls. To choose which colors will be used, teachers at Franklin have submitted their ideas to Poole and parent Amy Pennell, who has worked on painting projects as part of a previous job and is helping to coordinate the overall plan. Pennell will lead the charge to select the final color palette and her recommendations will be forwarded to the school board for approval. Once the colors are selected, teachers will be able to choose the design for their classrooms.

There will be latitude in picking the look of individual rooms, Poole explained, but within reason.

"You don't want one classroom to be one extreme," he explained. "You want make sure there's a theme and that one's not neon green or something crazy."

Paining will take place in waves, with the first round set to take place in late December and early January, during the school's winter break. Painting will also take place during spring break in April and summer break, beginning in June. Most of the work will be focused on the individual classrooms, the hallway outside the main office and the gymnasium. Most of the building's other hallways are walled with glazed tile and cannot be painted.

"The gymnasium area is the big one," Poole said. "It's where we have lunch, assemblies and all of our functions. Parents gather there when they come for an event."

The painting in the gym will include a large Rough Rider above the door and the logo may appear in the main hallway as well, according to Poole.

Parents and the National Honor Society at Kent Roosevelt High School have offered to help paint.

There is no definite time frame for the project, although two people completed a previous paint job for a classroom in the course of one long day of work.