by Stephanie Rokich
Volunteer Engagement Manager
Next month, 2,300 Kearns High students and nearly 400 South Kearns Elementary students will return to their schools, ready for a new year to begin.
Do you remember the first day back to school? The anticipation (or perhaps, anxiety!) of starting a new year, meeting new people, and learning a lot. I don’t remember thinking about how clean my school was, or if the grounds looked nice. I do, however, remember a feeling of order, with every classroom material in its place, and a bright place to learn and play inside and out.
As an adult, I now realize that it was no easy feat for the school to pull of that sense of order and calm! Over the summer, schools are tasked with the massive job of deep-cleaning, repairing, replacing, and improving the school and school grounds. It’s a big job for an often small team of custodians, and they appreciate any help they can receive.
That’s why, on June 16, 346 volunteers of all ages participated in United Way Day of Action to ready Kearns High and South Kearns Elementary for a new school year!
Day of Action Projects!
Volunteers completed ten projects including cleaning, kit and packet assembly, food pantry and library organizing, and community outreach. They also celebrated with a pep rally with the Kearns High cheer squad and marching band, inspiring talks from principals of both schools, an agency fair, a delicious lunch, and an opportunity drawing with prizes.
Day of Action Impact!
At South Kearns, the projects saved staff countless hours of cleaning, allowing them to focus on preparing for the year ahead. Community School Director Rosemary Mitchell said, “The library cleaning was especially impactful. It got the ball rolling on a project that we have continued to work on since Day of Action. The registration packets are also incredibly helpful as we plan a special registration day that takes a bit more coordination than the usual school event. All of these projects have saved the school time and money!”
At Kearns High, the work by volunteers freed up custodial staff time to work on other important projects. Senior Community School Director Steve Whatcott said, “The greenhouse and outdoor cleaning ensure all students enjoy a great environment when school begins.”
In addition to outside volunteers, Day of Action was a rallying point for the Kearns High community. Several staff, teachers, and Principal Maile Loo participated as well as AmeriCorps volunteers and more than 100 students from student government, LIA, Key Club, marching band, and the cheer squad.
Principal Maile Loo sent a warm thank you letter which read, “I had a few staff members assist with the project and they were so moved by the ‘spirit of volunteerism and making new friends!’ One commented that, even though it was work, we felt good about taking ownership of the work in our own school.”
The head custodian added, “This day was very rewarding to watch total strangers being willing to work in our school!”
The day was a win-win for the schools and the volunteers, who enjoyed a meaningful experience.
One volunteer, Steven Zentner, expressed, “I like to volunteer, especially when the time and opportunity line up. It’s especially meaningful when the opportunity comes to make an impact in a community so close to home.”
Checkout more photos from the day on our Facebook page.
Are you looking for more ways to make an impact this summer? Volunteer at Stuff the Bus to collect and sort school supplies or stuff them into backpacks. More details at stuffthebus.uw.org.