In just three years, Kellond Elementary School has undergone quite the transformation.

The student population at the east-side campus nearly doubled from 300 to about 600 — the result of school closures that forced students from two other sites to merge into Kellond.

At the same time, the school managed to go from being rated a “C” school to earning the top grade of “A” from the Arizona Department of Education last school year.

Now, the three schools that make up Kellond are gearing up for yet another change — one that they have eagerly sought.

The change will come in the form of a community-service project that will give the school, built in 1957, a face-lift.

After unsuccessfully vying to be selected for the University of Arizona’s Cats in the Community Day in 2013, Kellond was selected for the 2014 project, which brings together UA faculty, staff members and students to beautify a nonprofit or school by taking on projects that could not otherwise be addressed.

Come March, dozens of volunteers will descend upon the school, 6606 E. Lehigh Drive, to redesign an arts and music room, paint murals, do landscaping work, install shade structures, organize, clean and complete other projects to enhance the campus.

“It’s really exciting and we see this as a way to unify the school,” Kellond Principal Scott Hagerman said. “Now that things have come together, this is the topping that says ‘things are going

great.’ ”

While there is much to be proud of, it wasn’t an easy road, Hagerman acknowledges.

It all began in 2010, when the Tucson Unified School District closed Rogers Elementary School and a number of other campuses in the name of budget cuts. Students from Rogers were assigned to Kellond.

“The Kellond-Rogers merger was incredibly difficult,” said Emma Batty, a learning-supports coordinator at Kellond. “Blending two different communities with their already established rituals and behaviors took a toll on the group. Both communities had to make compromises, and collectively worked on establishing a culture that supported all members.”

It took a year, but the new community came together, though many continue — even now — to refer to the time when the schools were their own entities.

During the 2012-2013 school year, more school closures were underway and Kellond was once again selected as a merger school for gifted students from Corbett Elementary School for the current school year — a much smoother transition as the students were excited for the change — pushing the school to inch closer to its capacity of about 630.

“Now more than ever, Kellond needs help building community,” Batty said in a proposal to the UA.

Already, parents, students and the Kellond staff are stepping forward to help with the beautification project, working alongside the UA volunteers.

“We want to reward and help bring this community of students together with this project,” said Sheila McGinnis, the UA’s director of outreach and community partnerships.

Contact reporter Alexis Huicochea at or 573-4175.

On Twitter @AlexisHuicochea

Education writer for #ThisIsTucson. Mom of one.