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Making a difference with sweat equity

Growing up, I never thought about what happens at school during the summer. Super-young me just wanted to enjoy his time away from the classroom while it lasted. What did school matter on vacation?

Two decades and more than few extra years of school later, I have a much deeper appreciation for what faculties do in preparation for students in the fall. It’s an opportunity for much-needed maintenance on everything from the desks and doors to all the campus greenery.

All of this is to say kudos to the faculty and volunteers who toiled in the dirt at Booker T. Washington Elementary School on Monday morning. Fueled by water, Red Bull and Tropical Smoothies, they did good work improving the school’s curb appeal.

Teachers put on gloves to pull away weeds and fill up lawn bags with crab grass. Glenn Lyttle Sr., pastor of Olive Branch Baptist Church and owner of Anointed Cuts Lawn Care in Smithfield, cut back overgrowth with his hedger while his wife and other volunteers from his church spread mulch. It was all topped off by Peabody’s Pressure Washing and Mobile Detailing, Spotless and SKELO Enterprises, who power washed the school’s exterior.

“You want students, parents and the community to feel welcome and that starts on the outside,” Booker T. Washington Elementary School Vice Principal Bernette Brown said.

I’ve been seeing efforts by local groups to improve the look of Suffolk throughout the city, such as downtown murals and garbage cleanups through partnerships between Keep Suffolk Beautiful, Suffolk Public Library, OnePast7 art studio and others. Many of these efforts seem small at first but add up over time to make a real difference in how residents feel about their community.

At Booker T. Washington, Lyttle explained that he wanted the students to feel proud about their school. Pride in having a school that looks polished, but also in keeping that school in good shape by responsibility and ownership.

Invest your time and sweat into your community and be proud of the results. There are plenty of other learning spaces in Suffolk that need help, and there’s still time left in the summer to make a worthwhile investment.