Bobby Sanchez, Gwen Sanchez, Alan Walne, Mary Kellagher, Lauren Solomon, Patrick Brown, Robert Walne and John Torres

Students, parents and donors were on hand Friday as Northlake Elementary dedicated its new Outdoor Learning Center. The permanent shade structure and new tables will permit teachers to conduct outdoor lessons and will add to the enjoyment of open air activities like Field Day and Carnival.

Helping Principal Mary Kellagher and PTA President Lauren Solomon to cut the ribbon were donors Joan and Alan Walne of Herb’s Paint and Body, Patrick Brown, John Torres and Robert Walne of the Exchange Club of Lake Highlands, and Gwen and Bobby Sanchez.

“We believe in giving back to the community,” said Alan Walne, “and Northlake is absolutely deserving. There are so many people over here that are doing heavy lifting and really making thing happen. We want to do anything we can do to help lighten that burden. There’s been support from the PTA, but that group may not be as strong as it is in other elementary schools around, so us being able to push that a little bit further than they might be able to do on their own was something we looked forward to doing.”

“This elementary serves our community,” added Walne, who attended Lake Highlands Elementary and sent son, Robert and daughter, Sarah Walne Hefton, to Wallace. All 7 grandchildren will attend White Rock.

“Our family has been here so long, we try to do what we can.”

Wife, Joan, also had high praise for the work of teachers and staff at NLE.

“I’m so impressed with Mary Kellagher,” she said. “She finds creative solutions to support these kids.”

Other donors to the project included Northlake’s Excellence in Education Fund, the Patmore Family, the Lake Highlands Square Neighborhood Association, Friends of Lake Highlands Square, the Lake Highlands Estates Neighborhood Association and the Northlake PTA.

If you’d like to support NLE, email the principal at