Lifestyle

Volunteers spruce up Tulalip Elementary facilities

MARYSVILLE — Tulalip Elementary is getting a bit of a touch-up over the course of three weekends, thanks to a crew of nearly 30 volunteers and the support of a few community organizations.

Kids, parents, teachers and other community members turned out Aug. 6 to apply base paints and remove juniper bushes in preparation for the installation of original paintings and wooden carvings with a coastal Salish theme, as well as the creation of a "decompression area," community gathering place and ethnobotanical garden.

Mia Cauley, the parent of a Tulalip Elementary kindergarten student, credited a number of active participants with making this project possible, including former Totem Middle School Principal Judy Albertson, current Tulalip Elementary Principal Chris Sampley, Tulalip Tribal carver Mike Gobin, Candy Hill-Wells of the Tulalip Lushootseed Department, and Seattle-based Mithun architects.

"We contacted Mithun on a Monday and they got back to us that Wednesday with a three-phase proposal and a narrative for the next three years," Cauley said. "Priority number one was the high-traffic area near our front entrance, to give our kids a place to just sit down and decompress. We're totally reliant on donations and volunteers for these work crews, although the school district is supplying the paint and native plants."

Cauley noted that the volunteers are exploring possible grant funding sources, especially as they plan to remove asphalt areas and replace them with meandering grass paths. In the meantime, she added that the volunteers have a Facebook page, "Tulalip Elementary Parent Community," where people can check for updates on the project and contact its members about getting involved.

Bob DeNeui doesn't even have any children of his own at the school, but he showed up at 11 a.m. nonetheless to pick up a paint roller and go to work.

"Education is key to the future of our community, our country and our world," DeNeui said.

Brent Cleveland, 9, took to the top rungs of a tall ladder to do his own part for the paint job. While he described "getting all the little white spots done" as his hardest task, his grandmother, Raeanne Gobin, recalled her own time as a student at Tulalip Elementary.

"This is a good thing for the community," Gobin said, before laughing, "Of course, my husband is doing the mural, so I might be a little biased. It's good to give the kids a sense of community pride, through surroundings that are nice and clean."

Former Marysville School Board President Sherri Crenshaw, now a teacher at Tulalip Elementary, was applying base coats with her kids on the school's walls.

"I'm just happy to help out," Crenshaw said.

"We're helping to preserve a culture here," Albertson said. "I've wanted to do something like this for years. The community has given to us, so now we're giving back."

Sampley encouraged those with questions to call her at 360-653-0651, her office phone, which she checks for messages often.

The next volunteer work party will meet at the school Aug. 20 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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