James Gilley remembers the old brick amphitheater located in the middle of campus that his father, Tim, would take him to when he was younger.
Tim Gilley, a Latin teacher at the school would take his son to the old amphitheater and let him play around at that spot.
Fast forward to the present day and that old amphitheater is gone after it was torn down when a new section of the Permian campus was built.
As for James, he’s now a senior at Permian and working towards becoming an Eagle Scout. And for his service project requirement, he decided that he wanted to do something to give back to his school and leave a legacy behind.
James Gilley spent the last three months putting together plans, getting supplies and eventually building a brand new brick amphitheater now located in between the Permian Fieldhouse and the old gym.
The labors of his work were completed Wednesday and he officially presented it to faculty and staff at Permian High School Thursday evening.
The amphitheater, Gilley said, will be used as a multi-use spot on campus for conducting class outdoors or even as a hang out spot.
“It’s sort of an alternative outdoor classroom,” he said. “We would post about it on Facebook and get some comments if people could do plays, skits and stuff like that. There’s also a spot where if you stand on the middle brick, you can also get this amazing acoustic sound.”
Permian principal Delesa Styles said that having the amphitheater will make a valuable addition to campus.
“The timing could not have been more perfect,” she said. “As our students and staff come back to school in the most unusual times, it’s great to have a special place where we can come outside and practice social distancing but also have a place to visit or even have classes.
“It’s really, really something that will be here for years to come and we’re just super excited about it.”
Seeing the project to its completion was a rewarding and an eye-opening experience for Gilley.
In order to get the project started, he had to go through the proper channels at Permian and the Ector County Independent School District in order to get approval.
Once he did that, he had to find a way to either pay for or have companies donate supplies. He was able to get that help from Hawkins Construction, Acme Brick and The Home Depot. Each company had a hand in putting the project together whether it was providing labor or supplies.
“Getting everything that I needed and getting someone’s word saying that they will do something but the hardest part was getting that in writing,” he said. “I had to submit my Eagle packet saying that everything was paid for so that the scouts didn’t have to pay for it.”
Once he got that approval, Gilley and other members from Boy Scout Troop 34 got to work. He credited them and all the other companies that helped him see the project through.
“I couldn’t have done it without my scout troop,” Gilley said. “We knocked out cleaning things up whenever they were done with the foundation. We had humongous piles and truck beds full of dirt, sand and rock and they helped me take care of it in two or three days.”
Seeing that teamwork on display was also impressive to Scoutmaster Matthew Ellsworth. He said that Gilley had approached about the idea a while back and said that he believed it was going to be an ambitious project.
When he saw the plans, he was confident that he would be able to get the job done.
“It’s impressive,” Ellsworth said. “I think it was two weekends ago that we were out here cleaning up some of the dirt that the contractors dug up and basically we had a ring of cinder blocks. Now, there’s the three steps and it came together really fast.”
Styles echoed the Scoutmaster’s sentiment.
“I expected it to be a much more drawn out project just based on typical construction projects,” she said. “We were all really impressed with the timeline and how quickly it all came together.
“It says a lot about him and his team’s work ethic and their ability to collaborate and make things happen.”
As for Gilley’s journey to become an Eagle Scout, he’s almost at the end of the line. He said he has one more merit badge to earn on financial management that he hopes to complete by the end of the year.
When he looks back on his work, however, he says there’s a lot of pride in being able to put this project together.
“I’m just relieved that we got it done,” he said. “I’m very happy with how it turned out. I can’t wait to see how it’s used and what my classmates think of it.”