Oklahoma City church reaches out to school for art program, gym floor restoration

Mayflower United Church of Christ offers a before-school art program to Taft Middle School students and recently replaced a damaged gymnasium floor at the Oklahoma City middle school.
BY CARLA HINTON chinton@opubco.com Modified: October 9, 2011 at 2:12 am •  Published: October 9, 2011

The polished new gymnasium floor at an Oklahoma City middle school has nothing to do with art class, but the two have become intertwined because of a local church.

A year ago, members of Mayflower United Church of Christ created the “Taft Power Hour,” a before-school art program for Taft Middle School students who showed up early for school because of their parents' work schedule, transportation dilemmas or other issues.

The Rev. Robin Meyers, Mayflower's senior pastor, said he was touring the school one day when he noticed that a large portion of the gym had been cordoned off. Meyers said he was shocked when Taft Principal Eric Schellenger told him that half the gym was unusable because of the water-damaged floor.

Schellenger said the floor woes had been ongoing for five years, and Taft students were going to nearby Northwest Classen High School for some sports and physical education activities.

Meyers said he spoke to Mayflower church member Tom Brewer, owner of Brewer Carpet and The Floor Trader, and Brewer also expressed concern.

Recently, Brewer replaced the portions of the gym floor that were damaged as part of a project costing an estimated $12,000.

Meyers said he, Brewer and other Mayflower church members have been thrilled to help the Oklahoma City school at 2901 NW 23.

“We are mission-oriented,” he said.

“We are trying to do the types of things Christ would want us to do on this Earth. When people are starving or they need something, we don't want to argue about theology. We would rather give them food or what they need.”

Program fills void

Students participating in “Taft Power Hour” have made sculptures from metal coat hangers and pantyhose, drawn self-portraits and created art from old wine bottles, among other things.

Meyers said Mayflower hired artist Lisa Simms to run the before-school program, which meets from 6:45 to 8:50 a.m. giving students plenty of time to be creative before school starts at 9 a.m. The program began its second school year in August.

Simms receives help from volunteers from Mayflower such as church members Barbara Williams and Debby Senior.

Senior said many of the students hear about the program during the school's morning announcements while others learn about it from students who regularly show up for the art class.

“It gives them an opportunity to engage with their friends,” she said.