Local Fraternity Turns Abandoned School Into Community Center


Wednesday, August 17th 2022, 6:10 pm



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The local chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity bought Garden Oaks Elementary School a little over a year ago, in anticipation of creating a community center.  

“Most neighborhoods are stable, because of an elementary school, where kids have the opportunity to use the playground equipment,” said Derrick Lewis the chapter president.  

Currently there is no elementary school or community center in the area on the east of I-35 but soon that will change.  

“Twenty-seven thousand five hundred square feet of inside interior space, along with about ten acres of property outside,” said Lewis.  

The school was built in 1956 and the fraternity knew going into the project, there would be challenges.  

“We anticipated some of the challenges when we purchased the building and we didn’t want to run from them, because we see the need that’s here for this community,” said Lewis.  

It was initially anticipated to be a four-to-five-year project, and Lewis believes they are actually ahead of schedule, and once complete the center will be a real asset to this community.  

“We hope to have a community garden, a dance center, a karate studio, to create some safe places for kids to come after school,” said Lewis.  

There are also plans to have a library, computer labs and a gaming room. As the fraternity tells their vision for the center, the support for the project has been somewhat overwhelming.  

“We’ve had small donations to come in. Individual donations, large corporate donations to come in, but still the need is there for us to get this building together as quickly as possible,” said Lewis.  

In an effort to raise funds, the fraternity will host a golf tournament this Saturday August 20 at Firelake Golf Course in Shawnee.  

Currently there are over 80 players already registered. Participants can sign up as individuals or as four member teams.  

“All of the proceeds will go to this foundation, to help us further this process,” said Lewis.  

The tournament starts at 7 Saturday morning. There will also be a raffle and game prizes. Lunch will be served as well.  

“We feel fortunate and blessed that we have this opportunity really to give back to the community in a big way,” said Lewis.  

To become a sponsor, donate, or sign up for the tournament go to their website www.acfgolf.com  


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