|Project Goal||Our school’s surrounding area is economically depressed, riddled with graffitti, and a haven for gang activity. The one beam of light in this area for our students is their school. Here they become engaged with new concepts and experiences that allow them to dream beyond their zip code. Many of our students are on our campus from 6:45 am to 6 pm and therefore, their school is more than just a school, it is their second home. Unfortunately, the school environment reflects more as an institution rather than a home. The design of the school and main office are reflective of safety precautions that have resulted in a lack of warmth usually associated with elementary schools. The school is surrounded by an iron fence designed to deter people from vandalizing the campus. The yard and front of the school are concrete jungles, with little to no greenery for students and families to enjoy. The front of the school is four steel doors with no indication of the entrance, making it difficult for families to find the office easily and frustrating many. The murals in front of the schools have been marred by graffiti; anyone coming to the school, particularly for the first time, would not know of the incredible things that occur behind these walls because the outside does not reflect the warmth of the students and staff on the inside. More than once, we have had families who had made appointments to visit our dual language school cancel their visit because they did not want their child attending a school that looks like ours.
Our main goal is to provide a welcoming environment for our students, parents, staff, and surrounding community. Our school serves as a hub for the area with a multi-generational connection to the community we serve. An enhanced campus will demonstrate the pride we have in our school and provide culturally relevant connections to our local community. The benefits include a stronger sense of pride in our campus as students see a reflection of themselves in their environment. When students, parents, teachers, and surrounding community members attend and/or visit our campus, they will have a sense of belonging and feel as if they are worth the effort of having and maintaining a beautiful and inspiring campus. One goal is to take the drab white walls of our school and create a colorful environment representing the rich diversity of our student population and the surrounding community. We owe it to our students to celebrate their continuous learning with a vibrant school environment that showcases and celebrates their contributions.
Creating a school environment that celebrates student diversity is a win-win for all stakeholders. Students will become more engaged in learning as their interests, contributions, and cultural identity are validated. Parents will view our campus as a place that appreciates their cultural diversity and one that showcases how much we care about their children and their families. For the staff this helps create a home to school connection that is so valuable to student success. Additionally, this plays on our commonality with the community at large. In the end, this builds students’ confidence in themselves, pride in their school, and honors their contribution to learning. This has a cascading effect on the home and the larger community.
As it is important that it has long-lasting effects on the school community, we have developed a plan for maintenance and sustainability. This year, we held a school-wide Beautification Day, inviting staff, students, and community members to collaborate on school improvement projects. We will continue this tradition on a larger scale, hosting quarterly Beautification Days to maintain the work completed during Sharefest. Additionally, each classroom will adopt an area of the school to maintain and keep clean because we see our school as our second home. We want to instill in our students the importance of preserving our school in the same manner as we would our home. We commit to using Student Body funds for the costs involved with these projects. We currently hold four annual fundraisers to contribute to the preservation of our Student Body funding.
There are not enough words to describe how meaningful it would be for our project to be adopted. It would show our students and families that they are worthy, they are capable, and they are special and these are gifts that can never be taken from them. Currently, the school does not reflect how happy, intelligent, and kind the people inside of it are and this project would be an incredible first step to reminding them that they are worthy of what others in other zip codes have and that while we are a product of our environment, we are not limited by our environment.