Waxahachie ISD recognized its receipt of a special gift Monday night, with board members expressing their appreciation to alumni John Chiles, who has made the commitment of a cash gift toward landscaping at Marvin Elementary.

The gift, which will provide funding of up to $25,000, will provide funds to landscape the grounds in front of the school building as it fronts Marvin Avenue and College Street.

Fellow alumni Renda Hickerson designed the landscape plan that will be put into place at the school in cooperation with Scott Green of The Greenery. The project will include trees, including crape myrtles, as well as an irrigation system and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

“I am a graduate of the Waxahachie Public Schools: Ferris Ward, Marvin Elementary and Waxahachie High School class of 1946,” Chiles wrote in a letter to Superintendent Tom Collins. “I consider I was very fortunate to have spent my early years in this community.”

Chiles and Hickerson were on hand Monday night as the board reviewed a drawing of the landscape plan.

“We have a lot of fond memories,” Chiles said of himself and Hickerson, noting they both attended elementary school in what is now the administration building before moving to the original Marvin Elementary School building.

After the new campus was constructed, Chiles said he would drive by and wonder why it wasn’t landscaped.

“We need to make that a beauty spot,” he said he told his wife, who responded, “If you feel that way, why don’t you do something about it?”

Hickerson, who has experience in landscape design, said she had similar feelings about the campus’ austere appearance.

“My prime reason for doing this is that it looks so plain (the landscaping) and it’s such a beautiful building,” she said. “I was being asked by others, ‘Why (doesn’t the district) do something and it was music to my ears to hear John say he wanted to do this.”

The goal of the project will be “to enhance the beauty of the building” not hide it, she said.

Board president Dr. Joe Langley expressed the district’s gratitude for the gift.

“Your families have done so much for the community. This is one more example of your love for the community,” he told Chiles and Hickerson.

Noting Chiles’ comments in his letter about his gratitude to the district for the education he received, Collins said, “To both of you, I want to express our gratitude. This is a magnificent gift to the school and in giving back to the community.”

E-mail JoAnn at editor@waxahachiedailylight.com