*This story first appeared in The Budget’s May 2, 2018, Local Edition.
By Beverly Keller
Garaway Released Time Education, a program unique to the district funded solely by donations, has been deepening student knowledge of the Bible since 1962. The message first came in a modified trailer off school grounds at each elementary school. Now, the program is available weekly for students in K-6 and as a course of study for those in grades 7-12.
“Released Time Education is often known as ‘cabin’ these days,” explained Pastor Jacob Mahaffey, chair of the Garaway Released Time Education Committee. “It is our cabins that need some work right now. We have done our best to keep them fixed up over the years, but some have greater needs than our budget can handle.”
Some cabins need to be leveled. Some need roof work. All need updated doors and windows as well as new flooring. Several have mold creeping into the wall cavities.
There is also the issue of size. Mahaffey noted that when the cabins were built, class sizes were much smaller. Today, putting 26 – 30 students into a cabin built to hold 18 – 22 students is an art, to say the least. “We improvise,” stated Heather Metzger, who works as the teacher for the program in K-6. “When we want to color, we turn around and use our chairs as desks which can get messy in the winter months. I work hard to keep the floor clean and dry, but it’s not always possible.”
The board has looked at options ranging from purchasing prebuilt cabins to building new ones with help from the community. “We really want the community to help us bless the students at Garaway with new, larger cabins that will allow them to learn about the Bible and its characters,” Mahaffey said. “We want to see scripture written on the frame and join together with volunteers to make this dream, this goal, a reality.”
The group is already working on applying for grant funding to help with some of the costs. They are also looking at options for energy including solar to help with operational costs down the road.
“We really are hoping that those who have been through the program or have children currently in it will be interested in volunteering for a few hours or donating items,” Mahaffey shared. “Together, we can make this happen, one board, one shingle, one prayer at a time.”
Those interested in helping with the project are urged to contact Mahaffey at 330-401-8142. Donations can be mailed to: Garaway Released Time Education, PO Box 203, Sugarcreek, OH 44681. Be sure to write BUILDING FUND in the memo line of the check.