New pergola at Patton Middle School dedicated

Project a collaboration of Unionville High School Tech Ed, Patton FCS


Former long-time Charles F. Patton Middle School principal Bruce Vosburgh braves a downpour Monday to cut the ribbon on the school’s new pergola, which was named in his honor.

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times
EAST MARLBOROUGH — Powerful rain did not dampen the enthusiasm for a new pergola dedicated Monday afternoon at Charles F. Patton Middle School in honor of former long-time principal Bruce Vosburgh.

The new structure, which will be used by various classes at the school as an outdoor learning area was a collaboration of the middle school’s Family and Consumer Science falculty, which already has spearheaded the adjacent greenhouse and raised growing beds, and Unionville High School’s Tech Education department.

In fact, the pergola was designed by Abby Dorrell, a graduating senior bound for Cal Polytech where she plans to study architecture. Construction was done by the high school’s tech education students.

Already dubbed The Learning Center, the outdoor structure had already been put into use by Patton students and teachers prior to Monday’s formal dedication. The wooden structure features bench seating around its perimeter and will ultimately feature grape plants and grape hyacinths to provide some shade, courtesy of Jan Grimes, the Vineyard Manager at Galer Estate Winery.


The dedication plaque honors longtime Charles F. Patton Middle School principal Bruce Vosburgh as well as the various groups who helped make the new pergola a reality.

The driving forces behind the project were Patton FCS teachers Betsy Ballard and Kim Hisler — and both cited Vosburgh’s support for their various agricultural educational projects. Naming the pergola for him was entirely fitting, they said.

“None of this would be out there, were it not for you,” Hisler said, in dedicating the project to the former principal, who retired in 2012.

While the pergola will make it easier for students involved in the growing projects to learn and discuss what they’re doing, Ballard said she expects the wood structure to find a multitude of uses for the school and the community.

“We decided, ‘wouldn’t it be nice to have something out there that people could sit in? Teachers could have classes in…the school board could have a meeting in if they wanted?’ “ she said. “If people were here on the weekends, if they just wanted a place to sit and read, that it would be an open, welcoming space.”


The finished pergola, prior to dedication. the project was designed by a Unionville High School student, Abby Dorrell, and built by students from the school.

The project was paid for by a combination of grants, various contributions from the community, groups and businesses, including the Unionville-Chadds Ford Education Foundation, the Patton Student Council, the school’s Parent Teacher Organization, Kevin Mitchell (UHS class of 2001) and Bentley Systems, Lowe’s Home Centers, and the Chester County Food Bank.

Phoebe Kitson, the Chester County Food Bank’s Program Manager, expressed her strong support for the project — nearly a ton of food has been grown by middle school students and donated to local food banks in the last three years, including the Kennett Community Cupboard and the Chester County Food Bank, but noted the Food Bank is in dire need of volunteers — those interested in volunteering can click here  for more information.

Listen to our report as featured on the WCHE 1520 AM Morning Magazine!

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One Comment

  1. Sandy Beach says:

    Way to go UCFSD! That is a remarkable joint venture that will benefit many for years to come. Just another great example of how our excellent teaching staff and talented students give back to the district and community. They are all a great example of paying it forward. Well done! Congratulations!

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