As part of the St. Louis Public School’s “First Day, Every Day” initiative, more than 1,000 Washington University students will volunteer their time to landscape, paint, clean and renovate several schools to make the upcoming year more pleasant for teachers and students alike.
It’s all part of the fifth annual Service First, an initiative that introduces first-year university students to community service in the St. Louis area.
On Aug. 30, they will help update 11 St. Louis city public schools, and one each in University City and Riverview Gardens. Projects range from painting murals, inspirational messages and playgrounds, to decorating bulletin boards, to gardening and landscaping.
“This year’s event should be the biggest and best so far,” said Stephanie Kurtzman, coordinator for community service at Washington University. Kurtzman serves as coordinator of Service First. “It’s really become a wonderful way for us to welcome new students to the University and introduce them to the St. Louis community, as well as provide a taste of what we hope becomes an ongoing commitment to service.”
Upon returning to the University after a day of work, students will participate in a Community Service Fair and barbecue featuring more than 30 student-run organizations that focus on community service. Student bands will also perform.
Service First is co-sponsored this year by the Women’s Society of Washington University, the university’s Sesquicentennial Commission, Student Union, Congress of the South 40 and St. Louis Public Schools, among others.
Service First began in 1999 with about 600 student volunteers helping to clean and beautify scenic trails. This original Service First event won national recognition as one of seven “Exemplary Practices and Model Programs” from the National Association of Campus Activities. The award recognizes higher education institutions that have successfully addressed a contemporary issue in student affairs with exemplary skill, creativity and resourcefulness.
Schools visited this year will include Adams, Ames, Columbia, Beaumont High School, Hamilton, Highland Elementary, Kottemeyer Early Childhood Center, Laclede, Lyon ABI, Mallinckrodt, Simmons Mega Magnet, Central Visual and Performing Arts High School and Delmar Harvard Elementary.