Volunteers paint, clean up Allen Creek Elementary

Allen Creek Elementary student Ani Bleakley paints trim around a door Aug. 29. - Adam Rudnick
Allen Creek Elementary student Ani Bleakley paints trim around a door Aug. 29.
— image credit: Adam Rudnick

MARYSVILLE — While most students were enjoying their last weekend of freedom, Ani Bleakley and Cassie Shanks were painting their school.

"It's nice being here," said Ani, 10, a to-be fourth-grader at Allen Creek Elementary. "The school is really old and teachers here have helped us so much. We wanted to repay them."

The two students spent most of Aug. 29 painting doors, trim and helping out with whatever needed to be done during the daylong "spruce and clean event," organized by the school's Parent Teacher Student Association.

About 60 or 70 parent, staff and student volunteers spent the day working on the elementary school. They mainly scraped old paint from gutters and slathered green and blue trim on the building's exterior, but they were also scheduled to pick up trash, pull weeds and give some tender, loving care to the school.

"There's a lot of school pride here," said Dawn Bleakley, Ani's mother. "We have a good group of volunteers at Allen Creek."

The idea for the work party stemmed from Dawn Bleakley's previous effort at the school.

Bleakley had headed up a committee to purchase playground equipment for the school. Finding it difficult to obtain the necessary funding, Bleakley and the school's PTSA changed their focus, creating a beautification committee to help spruce up the school's exterior.

The PTSA then approached the Marysville School District with the plan. Not only were the volunteers told they could move forward with the project; they were given access to paint, brushes and ladders.

"With all the budget constraints (for the district), paying for overtime for staff was unreasonable," said Kimberly DeLap, PTSA committee chair. "We sent out about 200 e-mails to parents and have had a great turnout of parents and kids show up."

By 2 p.m., many of the school's doors had been painted a glossy blue color, with green trim and gutters lining the exterior of the school.

Keith Devereux and Marianne Shanks spent most of the afternoon painting and scraping gutters.

Devereux said he has twins in the second grade who will be soon starting school at Allen Creek.

"Anything you can do to help out in the community is a great thing," he said, perched on the seventh step of a ladder near the front of the school.

Shanks said she got involved in the effort because she wanted to encourage her daughter to be proud of her school.

Allen Creek Principal Kristin DeWitte said she was impressed by the turnout.

"It's amazing to have all the little kids out there helping," she said. "We've always been on the list for having the school repainted. I'd guess the paint is probably 12 years old or so."

She said the school typically has a large turnout for similar community projects.

"It's the last Saturday of summer, but that's testimony to our parents and students," DeWitte said.

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