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story.lead_photo.caption Lorie Son, director of the Williams School, gives a tour of the remodeled facility Thursday at Williams Memorial Church in Texarkana, Texas. Photo by Hunt Mercier / Texarkana Gazette.

TEXARKANA, Texas—Since 1968, Williams Memorial Methodist School has served some of Texarkana's youngest with a Christian education. Now, they continue to do so in bright rooms and spaces that were recently updated thanks to a church campaign.

"Rooted and Ready" earned $2,497,038 in pledges from 176 of the church's families, said Williams School Director Lorie Son.

The Giving Tree along the Sunday School hallway displays the names of families who have pledged anywhere from $1 to $500,000 to the campaign.

"We thought this would be a wonderful way to say thank you to those who donated," Son said.

The renovations, which were completed over two weeks this summer, include new flooring, paint and furniture for the school's 15 classrooms, along with more doors and increased security features. It also includes new flooring, paint and furniture for the Sunday School classrooms, new heating and air systems for all buildings and lighting in the fellowship hall.

"Our biggest thing is our mission here at Williams, which is to glorify God to teach our kids in a Christian environment so that each child reaches its greatest potential academically, socially and spiritually," Son said. "We really take that serious, so we tried to kind of plan our facility and our things around that."

The school serves 203 students from ages 8 months to 4 years old, with regular preschool and Mother's Day Out classes.

Improvements include a new teacher workroom, renovation of the indoor playspace to include basketball goals and a redo of the Grace and Goodies store, which is a hospitality area for the parents and staff.

"We sell lunches and have free popcorn and free coffee for the parents and staff. Everything we have for the school, we sell through here," Son said. "Even though we repurposed space, we didn't want to lose any of that warm, inviting atmosphere."

One hallway includes a Bible story mural they decided should remain throughout the renovations.

"It has been there forever," Son said. "We really saw a lot of value in the kids walking by and seeing the Bible stories with their parents. It's such a big part of our school." She said that it will be touched up some so it will last for more generations of Williams School attendees to appreciate.

"We want to keep parts of our history and what we've really built upon and this was a good way to do it with the mural," she said.

The building also features a redesigned Welcome Center, which has new flooring and paint. Nearby is a new gathering area with tables and windows for classes and groups to meet for programs and events.

"We have a committee working on 12 stained-glass windows honoring someone, so that's really going to bring some pop to this room," she said. "This will be an area where church functions will happen also."

Son said they have found a company to create the windows, which will be based on the Apostles.

"We're real excited about that," she said.

The church is also putting in a .7 mile walking track at the west side of the building and sports fields on the northern portion of the property, which is called the "Back 40."

"The goal of the trail and the sports fields is bringing families to Williams," Son said. "Since we've done the renovation, we've seen an increase in attendance on Sundays and our ministries here at the church. Our school is full and we do have waiting lists. We're glad we're getting to serve more families in the community through the Williams School. That was kind of our goal. It's a ministry, so the more families we can serve through a Christian education, the more impact we feel like we're making in Texarkana."

For more information, go to www.williamsumc.org or call 903-838-9517.

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