This past Saturday was DCPS Beautification Day and a team of us from YPT (I, our Program Manager, our board chair and vice-chair, one of our actors and one of our teaching artists) descended on Plummer Elementary School in Ward 7, at 8:00am, to help out. We didn’t know what to expect and hoped we’d be useful.
Boy, were we useful. It ended up being a really fun and full day. When we arrived we were met by Andrea from Kaplan, a company supplying classrooms with all kinds of materials, from bookshelves to dramatic play puppets. There was entire truck to be unloaded and brought into four different classrooms (after the furniture in each had been rearranged). We divided and conquered, with three of us helping to unload while the rest unpacked and sorted the classrooms with the help of a few teachers.
The supplies were amazing and abundant – and so much of it (play sand, doll houses, toy trains, art supplies) made all of us want to run right back to pre-K and play again. It felt great to be directly helping the teachers and students get ready for the opening of school – and to have an activity that brought our staff, teaching artists, actors and board members together to serve the community in a different way and get to know each other better.
After a few hours we had the classrooms ready for the teachers to finish setting up – with less than 48 hours until students arrive. Then we moved on to beautifying the outside – we weeded, planted flowers and mulched the entire front of Plummer, hopefully brightening students’ nervous first few days of school and helping them to see how much we all care. We grabbed t-shirts (provided by Target, apparently) and took some photos you can see here. By two o’clock we were done, thanked profusely by Principal Gray and his staff at Plummer and bidding farewell until we start our In-School Playwriting Program again with the 5th graders in a few weeks.
We’d all been dreaming of lunch for a few hours, so we ran down to Denny’s on Benning Road (one of the only sit down restaurants in my neighborhood of Ward 7) and dared each other to order the Grand Slam. We laughed and talked a lot over lunch and reflected on how much the teachers and school still had to accomplish to get ready for Monday’s opening. And also how great it is that DC students will start this year with so many great resources at their fingertips. It was an exhausting and exhilarating day – we hope to do more soon.
Producing Artistic Director and CEO