The rebirth of Arthur Ashe Charter School in its new building in Gentilly has been profound. Their success was made clear at Ashe’s first Community Day this past Saturday.
The Community Day event drew in a crowd of volunteers (families, students, staff and community members), who were divided into two jobs. Half shelved nearly 3,000 books in Ashe’s gorgeous new library. Another contingent transformed the garden area from a pile of soil into a grassy lawn streaked with prepared vegetable beds and spaces for aquatic gardens. Young scholars joined the effort happily, digging with shovels and building sandcastles in their spare time.
In another part of the school, families were painting a mural – no artistic experience necessary. Christine Richtofen, Ashe’s art teacher, provided small slabs of wood and paints, and assigned each painter a swatch of the mural to complete. Soon, the squares of wood will be hung on a wall to reveal a collaboratively created portrait of Arthur Ashe. For those who wanted to be painted on, Ashe teachers decorated the faces of passing youth with whiskers and spirals and little pictures of all kinds.
When much of the work was done, the community gathered in the cafeteria for a hamburger lunch with a side of cookies. Looking through the full-length windows, we could see a determined set of landscapers finishing the garden project.
Of course, Community Day was only the beginning. The Ashe family has a lot to look forward to this year. Chef April Neujean, our Health & Wellness Manager, is busy promoting various Wellness initiatives happening at Ashe and across the FirstLine network. Make sure to attend one of the free cooking or exercise classes, or even join the Wellness Committee at your school (or network)!
Jason Lacoste is the AmeriCorps VISTA K-8 Outreach Coordinator for FirstLine Schools.