DORAVILLE, Ga. – Dec. 23, 2015 – Underprivileged students at Hightower Elementary School will soon have access to an engaging outdoor learning environment, thanks to a recent donation from CITGO Petroleum Corporation and the local CITGO Doraville Terminal. Through this non-traditional setting, students will be exposed to traditional academic subjects while reconnecting with nature in a place that requires them to fully utilize their senses. This experience helps to enhance, enrich and stimulate students’ educational growth.
Built within the enclosed school courtyard, the area will feature a handicapped-friendly walkway to a resting observation area, leading to the classroom with seating for approximately 35 students. A permanent whiteboard protected from the elements completes the classroom. Other concrete features of Hightower Elementary School’s outdoor space will include a victory garden, bog garden, pollinator garden and composting station. In addition to this outdoor classroom donation, Hightower Elementary School receives financial assistance under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to help its high percentage of students from low-income families meet challenging state academic standards.
“As a Title I school, it is important that we provide our students with opportunities and experiences that encourage them to seek a brighter future,” said Sheila George, principal of Hightower Elementary School. “CITGO has made our vision of an outdoor classroom a reality, in turn allowing our students to have enhanced prospects for learning and exploration in the nature discovery area and gardens surrounding the classroom. When students go outside to learn, they can think more freely and develop better problem solving skills not used in the traditional cinderblock classroom.”
Over the past 15 years, the CITGO Doraville Terminal has been actively involved with Hightower Elementary School, supporting major projects like the outdoor classroom, as well as achievement-based school supply donations. This year’s donation will help expedite and guarantee completion of the outdoor classroom.
“Getting a good education is the first step to having a great career and giving back to the local community. This outdoor classroom will help the students of Hightower Elementary School to learn firsthand from nature and better understand the world around them,” said Rick Esser, CITGO vice president of supply and marketing. “Our partnership with Hightower Elementary School is a great example of the dedication CITGO has to education and social investment.”
CITGO helps communities achieve long-lasting sustainability by supporting educational and social initiatives that address some of today’s biggest societal barriers. Other CITGO educational and social initiatives include the Bronx Social Programs, work with John Paul II High School in Corpus Christi, university scholarships, Project Infinite Green in Lemont and partnerships with other local school districts. In 2015 alone, CITGO distributed more than $900,000 in grants through its Bronx Social Programs and donated $190,000 in scholarship grants to U.S. university students.
About Hightower Elementary School
Hightower Elementary School first opened its doors in 1958. The school has grown in many ways since that time. Our student population has grown along with its wonderful diversity. Hightower comprises over 30 different nationalities and we are well known for our ability to embrace and celebrate that diversity in all that we do. Although we have many different backgrounds, as a school, we rally around one motto:
The mission of Hightower Elementary School is to provide a standards-based instructional environment grounded in integration of curricular content, and writing across the curriculum to promote seamless learning opportunities that increase student achievement and ensure that students transition to middle school without the need for remediation.

CITGO, based in Houston, is a refiner, transporter and marketer of transportation fuels, lubricants, petrochemicals and other industrial products. The company is owned by CITGO Holding, Inc., an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. For more information, visit