Thursday, August 04, 2005

Tune in, turn on, spruce up! Aug 23 & 24

As noted in Principal Caren Trantas' letter, below, the district has announced city-wide

school spruce-up days

August 23 and 24
9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
(Yup, Tuesday and Wednesday. Don't ask.)

Please join the Home & School and others to spruce up the school for the student, faculty and staff return to school. Contact H&S Co-Presidents Angela Ahmad and Greg Moore for details.

Henry's Home & School is stepping up with some ongoing projects and a long-needed new list-item. Painting over some graffiti...trimming trees...general cleaning...and thanks to the initiative of H&S co-Pres Greg Moore: removing the superfluous chain-link fence separating the kids from the grass along Carpenter Lane and Greene Street. What's that Pete Seeger song...G-d bless the grass, that grows through the crack? I'd recommend that for the upper school yard theme song this summer, but I'm kind of enjoying seeing the greenery up there. I know it's going to be obliterated by the thundering feet of racing kids starting September 6.

When I first got involved with Henry, my thoughts on these spruce-up days were, well, incredulous. How can this $1.9 BILLION organization ask me to volunteer to do work that I would expect school and district staff to do on an ongoing basis?

Then I realized this constellation of small organizations, 260-some schools confederated into what we like to think of as a single-headed beast (think: octopus), is really a city-wide collection of small organisms working in concert around a single purpose (think: mediclorians). Much like the nonprofits I've worked for throughout my career. Under-resourced. Over-worked staff. Aging physical plants. Over-used by demand from the community (and that's a good thing!).

Like the nonprofits where I've rallied volunteers to help clear trails, paint classrooms, move furniture, pick up beach litter, and count bicycle commuters on city streets, Philly schools need volunteers to pick up some of the important-but-not-urgent tasks that make our schools welcoming to students and staff. When I think a little further into it, I realize that I don't really want to focus a teacher's expertise, the Principal's attention, or even the building engineer's energy on minor (albeit nuisance) items like a spot of tagging, non-threatening tree branches, or eradicating weeds that size 13 through 13 feet (it's a K- 8 school - work it out) will take care of in short order.

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