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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Sewell gets a facelift

Rebecca Rillos / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Kyle Henson, a UA pre-health student, and Karteek Chegooru, a business analyst at UA, build a picnic table for the students at Sewell Elementary School on Saturday, Mar. 5, 2011. Over 400 volunteers attended the Cats in the Community Day on Saturday.


UA students, faculty and Bens Bells volunteers clean up and remodel Sewell Elementary School in Tucson, Ariz., on Saturday, Mar. 5, 2011. **I have all the names and descriptions, just ask**
Rebecca Rillos
Rebecca Rillos / Arizona Daily Wildcat Kyle Henson, a UA pre-health student, and Karteek Chegooru, a business analyst at UA, build a picnic table for the students at Sewell Elementary School on Saturday, Mar. 5, 2011. Over 400 volunteers attended the Cats in the Community Day on Saturday. UA students, faculty and Ben’s Bells volunteers clean up and remodel Sewell Elementary School in Tucson, Ariz., on Saturday, Mar. 5, 2011. **I have all the names and descriptions, just ask**

More than 400 students, faculty and staff worked together to revitalize indoor and outdoor facilities at Sewell Elementary School during Cats in the Community Day on Saturday.

The project has been in the works since last May, while Cats in the Community determined exactly what was needed for the school to meet its basic needs.

Director of Outreach and Community Partnerships Holly Altman led the volunteer group into the elementary school at 8 a.m. The last volunteers finished at 6 p.m.

“”I just have a fantastic planning team who turns every stone to make it happen,”” Altman said.

Each year, Cats in the Community selects a different nonprofit organization or school as the site for an extreme makeover. They use only donations, resources available to them and volunteer work.  

“”They send in different proposals and we select a place that matches the mission of the university, and where we can really make a meaningful impact,”” Altman said.

The project is funded by grant and in-kind donations. This year, The Marshall Foundation donated $5,000 toward the project. Moe’s Automotive provided a free lunch for all 400 volunteers.

Altman said Sewell Elementary School was chosen because of the severity of its budget cuts, changes in student demographics, high rate of low-income kids and nearly 40 autistic students.

The school “”really needed a face-lift,”” she said. “”I mean it was just a perfect site for a lot of volunteers to make an impact.””

A week before Cats in the Community Day, the Reserve Officer Training Corps painted along the roof of the building, moved about 20 tons of sand and installed a new irrigation system at the school.

“”I look forward to it every year,”” said Andrew Comrie, dean of the graduate college. Comrie helped build 15 wooden picnic tables for the school’s playground.

“”It’s truly amazing what this many people can do in one day,”” Comrie said.

Ben’s Bells was also involved in the project this year. They created a mosaic tile mural on a wall at the entrance of the school. A graphic design team competed for the most creative ways to implement changes to painting and construction. At the front of the school, a U.S. map was painted across the sidewalk.

Cats in the Community is also refurbishing the elementary school’s library with new books and working on getting new computers. A major landscaping project also came to fruition as Northwest Landscaping donated trees and plants in addition to all the parts for the irrigation system.

Provost Meredith Hay was also involved in the project, “”doing a lot of digging, a lot of planting, and just remaking this whole school.”” Hay said the community outreach was “”fantastic”” and showed that so much change could be made if people gather like they did on Saturday.

“”I like giving back to the community,”” said Marvin Portillo, a freshman majoring in aerospace and mechanical engineering. Portillo worked alongside Chris Cruz, a political science senior, all morning as they dug up old plants, shoveled dirt and planted new trees.

Glory Novak, UA’s psychiatry department administrator, took a large role in the project. Altman said Novak is her second hand.

“”Oh my god, this is just the best day of the year,”” Novak said.

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