Last Saturday, the 21st, Mike Green and the Capitals hosted the DC Public Schools Beautification Day. Of course, as soon as I saw the announcement about it online, I signed up. I love doing volunteer work, and I knew that the DC schools can always use a little extra help! My mom signed up too, and we were assigned to “classroom organization.” We weren’t quite sure what that would entail, but we were excited nonetheless!
We arrived at Powell Elementary School almost exactly at 9 am, and weaved our way through the crowds of red-clad Caps fans to get to the registration booth. There we got our Capitals DCPS Beautification Day t-shirts, which were large. And I mean LARGE. Adult larges on women who are 5’2″ does not work out so well!
After we checked in, we waited around on the black top for a while, chatting and checking out the free snacks and Vitamin Water. After some time, Wes Johnson, the announcer for the Caps at the Verizon Center, got on the mic and welcomed us to the event. He introduced the people who set it up, who then introduced the group leaders. We all got in our groups for the day, such as gardening, locker cleaning, sign painting, murals, and more, and headed off. My group did a quick introduction, and were led into the school.
We walked through the crowded and already busy hallway and entered a few classrooms on the way. Our job was to find a room we wanted to work in and basically do whatever the teacher wanted us to do! My mom and I chose a kindergarten classroom with a very young teacher, who was a part of Teach for America. She was a new teacher this year, and is in charge of a kindergarten class that is taught half in Spanish, and half in English, due to the large number of children at Powell who are native Spanish speakers.
Our teacher had us doing the tasks she had set aside for her aide, who didn’t get there for another hour or so. By that time, we had thoroughly cleaned all of the cubbies for the children, all of the chairs, the tables, and other untouched areas of the room. While my mom and I were working, the teacher was putting together a large alphabet banner for the classroom. Since the classroom was going to be bilingual, she had to have two alphabets – one for Spanish and one for English. The only major difference was the pictures that went along with the letters. For example, the Spanish alphabet had a cat, gato, with the letter G.
The next task was a little more daunting than wiping up the dirt in the bottom of the cubbies. We had to figure out how to tape the banner up above the whiteboard, and try to make it centered, too. Remember this: my mom and I are 5’2″. The teacher was a few inches taller than us, but not by much. We brought over a few of the chairs in the classroom to stand on, but that also didn’t help too much, seeing as they were made to fit five year olds! We strained to slap up rolls of tape along the wall, and then came the next step: putting up the banner itself.
We started at the end, and carefully lifted X, Y, and Z up to the tape on the wall. Luckily, it stuck without problems, so we moved up the alphabet, trying to make sure it was straight and staying up. It was difficult to reach the top of the banner, so it sagged a little! Finally, though, the alphabet was up, and the classroom looked nearly complete.
After a few minutes of staring in awe at our success, a few volunteers stopped by our room and dropped off goody bags for the kids. But it wasn’t just some volunteers… Mike Green was with them! Of course, my mom recruited him for some work. We needed someone tall to make sure the banner wouldn’t fall. Green could easily reach the top of the banner without any effort, and had it secured in no time. He was a little confused about the cat being paired with G, so I had to explain to him that the classroom was bilingual! We took a few pictures and chatted for a bit, and it turns out that he did remember me from the Muscle Milk events! Needless to say, that’s going to stick with me for a while.
After we had finished helping in the classroom, we looked for other things to do. We decided to lend our “skills” and helped paint a mural in the elevator lobby – luckily they had a touch-up crew! We painted a good number of animal tracks on the walls, and headed outside for some much-needed pizza and fresh air. Mike Green was hanging around outside, chatting with some very happy young boys. We finished our pizza, said goodbye to the many people we met, and happily drove back to Arlington in our (luckily) air-conditioned car.
The DCPS Beautification Day was a huge success. We left feeling great about our help, and the change in the school was tremendous. It’s especially great for hockey players like Green to help with fans to get such important work done. I was so glad to be able to go to this event, and hope I can participate next year too!