Library Renovation Plan

  • A committee of stakeholders from our school and community have proposed an interior redesign of the library space. The first fundraiser for the Library's renovation was organized by the committee last Winter. 

    The "Fantasy, Fairytales, & Fables Gala" held on Thursday, February 28 at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies was the successful kickoff event for an ongoing fundraising effort to renovate the Pi Beta Phi Elementary School Library. Guests, some of whom came dressed as their favorite storybook characters, enjoyed an evening exploring the aquarium along with fine food provided by Ripley's and musical entertainment by DJ Ron Blaydes. Area businesses provided door prizes and auction items, and Savannah Bee Company was on site with tasting opportunities and giveaways. The total of ticket sales, auction purchases, and donations for the evening totaled $6,416.

    In addition to fundraising, the event also raised awareness about the proposed renovation throughout the community at large. After learning about the project from promotions for the event, the Gatlinburg Hospitality Association and the Sevier County Hospitality & Tourism Alliance presented the school with donations totaling $6,500. Several other community partners have expressed interest in supporting the project in the coming months.

    The total cost to renovate the library based on the proposed plan is currently estimated at approximately $200,000. The total raised to date is $37,916, nearly 19% of the funds needed. This amount includes Pi Beta Phi Elementary School's initial contribution of $25,000 to begin the renovation fundraising drive.

    Principal Carey Woods said, "We are so grateful to Ryan DeSear and his staff at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies for sponsoring this successful kick-off event to benefit our library's renovation plans. We also want to express our thanks to many businesses and members of the community who stepped up to donate a wide array of items for our door prizes and silent auction baskets. All in all, the event was a fun way to raise money for the project and to spread the word about our future goals at Pi Beta Phi. Now that the fundraising efforts are off to a strong start, our group of school and community stakeholders look forward to planning the next steps in realizing the renovation plan."

    Sally Helton, the school's librarian, said, "I have spoken with a number of community members who are excited about the future of our library. Many of them attended Pi Beta Phi when they were in school or they have children or grandchildren who are current or former students. We feel the support from this very tight-knit community, and I’m confident that we have the momentum to reach our goal of providing a beautiful and more functional library space for our students."

    The current library facility at Pi Beta Phi Elementary opened in 1968. Since that time, the space has seen very few changes. The goal of the renovation is to update the space to meet the needs of 21st-century learners while maintaining a strong sense of community and mountain heritage. Donations for the library renovation project may be mailed to Pi Beta Phi Library Renovation, 125 Cherokee Orchard Drive, Gatlinburg, TN 37738. For more information, contact Sally Helton at sallyhelton@sevier.org.