Even before this year's $32 million school bond proposal was on the radar, the Avedis Foundation had announced a $1.5 million grant project for Shawnee Middle School (SMS).

Even before this year's $32 million school bond proposal was on the radar, the Avedis Foundation had announced a $1.5 million grant project for Shawnee Middle School (SMS).

That project has reached the pre-construction phase.

Avedis Foundation President and CEO Michelle Briggs said that construction offices are onsite and dirt work started mid-December.

As part of the SMS project, the City of Shawnee provided, at no charge, engineering, bidding, contracting and construction management for the sidewalk portion, which created an uninterrupted sidewalk along Union Street for 2.25 miles.

“The City of Shawnee gladly supports this collaborative project with Shawnee Schools and the Avedis Foundation; it is a win-win for everyone involved,” said Justin Erickson, Shawnee city manager.

Provided through the grant, the SMS Avedis Park project includes:

• Purchasing acreage

• Constructing multi-purpose/tennis courts, which will provide facilities for both school-based teams and physical education classes (approximately 180 days annually) and will be made available to the community when not used by the district

• Forming a sidewalk from the MacArthur St. and Union St. intersection to the Middle School, which provides safe walking routes for children and adults

• Building a 10-foot wide walking trail

• Designing and developing a nature play and learning place west of the Middle School: The nature play and learning area will include a shallow pond, area for an amphitheater, Frisbee golf, and woodwork to support these activities, such as decks, benches, a stage and dock. This outdoor learning space will support education-related activities for middle school and elementary school students.