With a little hard work and determination, a transformation can occur. That is exactly what has been happening at Washington Elementary this summer, and especially for the past two weeks.
Thanks to the efforts of the administration at Washington, teachers, maintenance staff and members from the United States Air Force 509 SFS/53A Division from Whiteman Air Force Base, the building is receiving a “face lift” so to speak.
“We’ve had people painting the upstairs and downstairs hallways and we have new counter tops in the office as well as some new furniture in some of our offices and classrooms,” Administrative Assistant Keyla Sharp said. “All of this was really long overdue.”
Washington Principal Lisa Volk wanted to take the project one step further and asked if she and her staff could paint the hallways this summer.
“Every year we have a group of teachers and administrators who step up and take it upon themselves to do extra projects in their buildings,” Superintendent Brad Pollitt said. “We need to approve the work before it starts, but we are extremely grateful whenever they are willing to lend a hand to do the work.”
“My husband Jamie and I started to paint (the halls) a few weeks ago,” Volk said. “We had a few teachers who came and helped us, but we really weren’t getting a lot accomplished very quickly.”
That is when Sue Foster and Jack Menges made a suggestion.
Foster and Menges are in charge of the Open Door Summer Lunch Program that serves meals to more than 700 area children daily.
The meals are prepared at Washington Elementary for distribution to the other sites throughout Pettis County.
“One day Sue said that she knew of a group that may be willing to help us with the painting,” Volk said. “She put me in touch with Master Sgt. David Shaw at Whiteman. He said they had a group of service people who were willing to help with community service projects like this.”
Enter 15 airmen and women from Whiteman who were on hand at the school Tuesday morning to help with the painting.
“Since they have arrived they have doubled our work,” Jamie Volk said. “It took us two days to paint a hallway that is the same size as the one they will have done in probably 15 minutes. We really do appreciate all they are doing here.”
The members from Whiteman plan to return to Washington Thursday and Friday to help complete the project.
“I came (Tuesday) because I had the day off and I wanted to help,” Senior Airman Mitchell Bushnell said. “I’ve done a few community projects but nothing like painting. I really want to make it look as good as possible for the kids.”
Bushnell said he was planning to return Thursday and was hoping to convince his roommate to come and help as well.
Airman 1st Class Omar Fonseca agreed with Bushnell.
“I came today because it gave me an opportunity to get to know this community,” Fonseca said. “It also lets me give back and help the kids here.”
“The project is just another example of a positive community outreach,” Pollitt said. “We all benefit whenever groups come together like this. We are extremely grateful for all of their help.”
Volk said that thanks to the efforts of the district’s maintenance staff and the hard work of the volunteers, the project should be finished in a week or two.
“We really are so grateful for all of their help,” Volk said. “We really couldn’t have gotten it done if not for them.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484