Students renew D.C. school

GW students picked up trash, painted walls and raked leaves at Clark Elementary School in Northwest D.C. Saturday morning as part of Hands on D.C., an annual community service project to improve District public schools.

“It’s important for the kids to play in a clean school,” sophomore Jill Pettit said. “So it’s important to me to help with this project.”

Hands on D.C. began in 1994 with the goal of renovating schools. The program includes 45 D.C. schools and drew about 3,000 volunteers this year.

Twenty-two GW students received gloves, trash bags and instructions to pick up garbage from the schoolyard.

Fifth grade teacher Angela Archer-Skinner said schools get excessive debris because their property is open to the community.

In addition to raking leaves, students mulched flowerbeds and painted hallway walls. The main project GW students participated in was a “connect-the-dots,” paint-by-number map of the United States on the blacktop in the school’s playground. Students connected the dots with chalk and painted the states blue, pink, orange, yellow and green. Clark students, who participated in the Saturday programs, also lent a helping hand.

Freshman Maggie Baumer said she was pleasantly surprised that students showed up.

Cheryl Newbie, a first grade teacher, said she was happy to see the freshly painted yellow hallways of the school. She called it a much-needed improvement that gives kids enthusiasm toward coming to school.

Andrew Scott, the site coordinator for Clark Elementary, directed the activities of the day. He visited Clark about four months before the designated day, decided which parts of the school needed the most work and estimated what supplies were needed. Scott said the organizing committee was responsible for publicity and fundraising since most of the supplies were donated.

GW sophomore David Johnson said he found out about Hands on D.C. through the Residence Hall Association. He said he saw the program as a good opportunity to help his surrounding neighborhood in D.C.

Johnson said the field was covered with garbage when the volunteers got there, but after a little teamwork it looked like a real playground.

“I just hope we made it a better place for the kids to play,” Johnson said.

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