By Tracy Correa
HINKLEY – About 300 students, school officials and PG&E representatives gathered on a perfect, sunny Thursday (March 22) afternoon to mark the dedication of a shade structure at Hinkley Elementary School.
The 20-foot high structure – which measures 30-feet wide and 45-feet long – provides much-needed shade for middle-schoolers in this Southern California desert school.
Diane Kammeyer, principal of Hinkley Elementary School, said the shade structure is one of the few places where the older students can congregate and get out of the sun. “This is an area for the kids to be able to sit and get together, where they can be supervised.”
The K-8 Hinkley school, part of Barstow Unified School District, serves as both an elementary and middle school campus. The shade structure is on the middle school side of the campus and there are several rows of picnic tables underneath it.
PG&E provided $22,000 to build the metal structure completed late last year. It is one of several beautification projects the utility has undertaken at the school. PG&E has also demolished and removed an old, dilapidated caretaker building on school property, removed buckled and cracked concrete that posed a hazard to students, and installed a solar panel at the school.
Tom Wilson, PG&E’s director of environmental remediation, told those gathered in a pre-ribbon cutting assembly, that the partnership with the school, students and community is very important to PG&E.
Jeff Malan, superintendent of Barstow Unified School District, thanked PG&E for its help in improving the school. “We look forward to a great partnership with PG&E in the future … all for the benefit of Hinkley students.”
Thursday’s school event included an in-door assembly – attended by PG&E’s Helmet mascot — where students were treated to colorfully-decorated cupcakes and frozen yogurt followed by a ceremonial ribbon cutting in front of the shade structure.
Eighth-grade student Joe Ventura was selected by Kammeyer to cut the red ribbon draped across the shade structure’s support posts.
PG&E continues working closely with the school and district officials. The school is scheduled to receive a new water system as part of a recently-reached settlement agreement related to contamination from hexavalent chromium.
PG&E’s has taken responsibility for the contamination and its top officials have stressed the company’s ongoing commitment to remedy the situation in Hinkley and working in partnership with the school and the local Community Advisory Committee that was launched last year.
Email Tracy Correa at firstname.lastname@example.org.