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Farragut parents donate picnic tables for “physically distanced” seating

“With COVID we’re trying to spread students out as much as possible,” said Dr. John Bartlett, Principal of Farragut High School.
Published: Jul. 30, 2020 at 6:40 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 30, 2020 at 9:02 PM EDT
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FARRAGUT, Tenn. (WVLT) - The Farragut High School principal requested a different item on its back to school shopping list this year. That was picnic tables.

“With COVID we’re trying to spread students out as much as possible,” said Dr. John Bartlett, Principal of Farragut High School.

Workers created picnic tables near the front entrance of the high school.

That was because Dr. Bartlett emailed parents asking them for help.

“We’re built for 2,000 students, but we’re built for a commons area where we can sit you know 500-600 students, but they’re sitting shoulder to shoulder during lunch,” explained Dr. Bartlett. “We’re going to have students in the cafeteria, and we’re going to ask them as best as they can to social distance, and I’m just going to be completely honest with people, it’s going to be hard to do.”

Two people took up the call and got to work.

“It started trickling from those moms to other businesses to local leaders and sort of has ballooned from there,” said Maria Hartsell.

Parents united to spend thousands of dollars for at least 30 tables.

Businesses and non-profits also donated and built some picnic tables.

“They’ve always allowed the students to have lunch outside if they would like. But obviously there weren’t tables for that many seating,” said Hartsell. ”I do think my children will enjoy eating outdoors.”

Caroline Golebiewski and her twin sister, Molly, are rising ninth graders at Farragut High School.

”I think that it would be good for us to be able to social distance and also hang out with our friends and eat lunch with them,” said Golebiewski.

Dr. Bartlett said some of the 1,450 students can enjoy the outdoor seating this fall.

”Our community responded in a big way to make this happen,” said Dr. Bartlett.

“This felt like something positive, that we did have control over, that we could do,” said Hartsell.

The school will also get fold-up pavilions in case it rains.

If you are interesting in donating you can email Maria Hartsell at mariashartsell@gmail.com.

Copyright 2020 WVLT. All rights reserved.

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