Seeing RED

Kids at Jewett Elementary School participate in Keller Williams Real Estate's annual 'Red Day' cleanup campaign
Karina Ortega, 10, Zackary Harp, 11, and Alyson Perez, 4, help smooth out dirt while participating in Keller Williams National Red Day at Jewett Elementary School in Central Point Thursday.Jamie Lusch

CENTRAL POINT — A sea of red T-shirts converged on Jewett Elementary School on Thursday afternoon to provide a needed face lift for the campus and teach an important lesson about service to community.

The shirts were a mixture — some bore logos of the school's Jewett Jaguars, some of the Keller Williams Real Estate company.

With a laundry list of needed improvements, the school was the recipient of the real estate company's annual "Red Day," an effort that began in 2008 as a day for local Realtors to provide community service on the second Thursday of May.

Already big proponents of student-led community service, Jewett principal Tom Rambo and fifth-grade teacher Kim Elmer hosted a smaller version of Thursday's work party last year and took the event school-wide this year.

Rambo said the event would show "generations of students" that everyone, no matter what age or size, could contribute in some way to the community and the school.

Rambo practically jogged laps around the campus Thursday fielding questions about mulch and gravel deliveries, locations for planting flowers and plans to sand and paint various areas of the school.

"There's some real-life skill going on here," he said, nodding toward boys with power drills and girls maneuvering sections of lumber for a half-dozen planter boxes. "They're doing this themselves and they're in charge of keeping it up after it's done."

Fifth-graders Dillon Dritchas and Mason Dalton, both 11, sought help changing a drill bit as classmates Jabonte Spears and Tyler Chapman, also 11, planted flowers near the school entrance and supervised box construction.

"We pretty much made new boxes for this area because the ones with trees in them have been here for a really long time and we wanted to help our school," said Dillon.

"We got to use the drill and build the boxes so they'll plant some flowers in here to use at the garden," added Mason.

Rambo said the effort began shortly after lunch, though some two dozen Keller Williams folk showed up earlier to stage the work areas for students and provide guidance.

Elmer, who coined the school's motto, "Power of Positive," busily instructed students on flower planting in a large interpretive garden, constructed by fifth-graders and students from Scenic Middle School and Crater High School, near the school's playground entrance.

All told, the work day would include a new backstop for the sports field, a refurbished gravel track, planter boxes, landscaped garden area, flowers near the school entrance, and thoroughly weeded play areas.

Fifth-grader Kiarra Champagne held a pair of yellow snapdragons with dirt-covered gloves and surveyed the progress being made.

"I think this is all just really cool because, in a younger grade if you do all this community service every year, then you'll just naturally know to do it and know how important it is once you get older," she said. "I think it'll make the school look really pretty and everyone will be proud of all the work that they're doing."

Doing their part to weed planter beds around the playground, edge the track and dump buckets of weeds into an almost overflowing pickup, third-graders Clint Warner, Christian Viray and Josh Watson were pleased with the students' hard work.

"This is going to be a lot nicer and a better play area for us to be really proud of," Clint, 9, said.

"Yeah, there were like a ton of weeds over there and some garbage and even some batteries," said Josh, 8.

Christian, also 9, said the work party was a no-brainer.

"We're cleaning it up so it looks nice again," he said. "Everyone is just doing this because we care about our school and everyone wants to help it be better."

On the Web: www.kw.com/kw/redday.html

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at buffyp76@yahoo.com.



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