MARYSVILLE — Allen Creek Elementary’s annual spring cleaning was moved from the spring to the late summer this year, but in spite of the shift in schedule and the day’s early morning drizzle on Saturday, Aug. 24, a crowd of parents, students, faculty and community members descended on the campus to spruce it up in time for the start of the 2013-14 school year on Sept. 4.
Allen Creek PTA President Vanessa Edwards explained that, in addition to the usual litter cleanup and washing of windows and doors, the school needed fresh lines painted for where students need to line up outside of their classrooms, as well as 10 yards of bark from the Marysville School District that needed to be laid down on the grounds.
“This is our first time laying down bark,” Edwards said. “The school district has all this bark, but they only have so many hands, so they can only get to so many schools.”
Also new to this year’s beautification of Allen Creek Elementary was a power-washing of the concrete of its raised garden beds and other exterior features of the facility, which Edwards reported had grown grimy with the number of skateboarders who had used them as ramps over the summer.
“We don’t want our kids to be sitting on them if they’re filthy,” said Edwards, who saw all these touch-ups as ways of celebrating the school’s 20th anniversary this year. “We’re also planting fresh flowers in the garden beds to make it a little more welcoming. We’ve had to paint the outside of the school before, but not this year. That paint job is still looking good.”
Among the community members who turned out with yard work tools in hand was Larry Nyland, the former superintendent of the school district, who joined in the day’s labors as part of the Marysville Free Methodist Church, with which Allen Creek Elementary is partnered.
“I’m just here from the community to help out the community by helping the school,” Nyland said. “I appreciate the work that everyone is doing here, and I’m glad to do my part.”
Lesley McAuliffe has been bringing her kids to the school’s annual cleanups for the past four years. Daughter Sara, who’s heading into third grade at Allen Creek Elementary this year, has accompanied mom all four years, while this year marks the third such cleanup for son Spencer, now entering fourth grade at Allen Creek, and daughter Madison, who’s starting seventh grade at the 10th Street Middle School. Son Austin, who’s joined the rest of the McAuliffes for two years running, is a freshman at Marysville Getchell’s International School of Communications.
“It keeps them busy on a weekend and helps make sure they won’t want to mess up the garden beds,” Lesley McAuliffe said, as she and her children weeded and edged the raised earth beds. “It gives them a greater sense of investment in the school. Madison and Spencer actually did a school play about people defacing the school. Spencer saw that someone had written on the bathroom walls and said, ‘This has got to stop.’”
Allen Creek Elementary Principal Janelle McFalls claimed it was no chore to roll up her sleeves with the rest of the volunteers, since “I like yard work. Of course, it had to turn out to be the only rainy day in August,” she laughed, “but plenty of people still showed up to help. I only wish it had been drier so that we could repaint the playground as well, but a few of us will try to hit that up before the school’s open house on Thursday,” Aug. 29, from 4:30-6 p.m.
McFalls praised Edwards and all the other PTA members who gave of their time and efforts to make the annual school beautification possible.
“Our PTA members have lives and jobs of their own, but they go above and beyond for these kids,” McFalls said. “They stay focused on the kids — not just today, but every day.”
McFalls also thanked the Marysville Free Methodist Church for donating 40 backpacks filled with school supplies to Allen Creek Elementary.
Andrew Mittelstaedt attended kindergarten through fifth grade at Allen Creek, and returned for this year’s campus cleanup before returning to Bellevue College in the fall, where he’s majoring in digital video.
“To be honest, it was just a relief to get out of the house, since I’ve spent so much time indoors editing videos,” laughed Mittelstaedt, whose mother was a teacher at the school when he attended classes there. “But I also wanted to give back to this school because it was really good to me when I was here.”
“I love how excited the kids get when they come in for the first day and see how great everything looks,” Edwards said.