CSUSB Students Making a Difference for Younger Students by Rejuvenating Their School

By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley)– Though it was a Saturday morning, Live Oak Elementary School in Fontana was abuzz from more than 150 volunteers, many of them Cal State San Bernardino students, working to brighten up the school.

Equipped with small cups and buckets of paint, paintbrushes, rollers, blue tape and pencils, the volunteers outlined and painted murals on the outer school building, inside the school walls and handball courts. They also outlined and painted hopscotch squares, tetherball courts, basketball courts, and handball courts on the cement playground with bright vibrant colors.

The volunteer paint project at Live Oak was part of national “Make A Difference Day” on Oct. 27, held by the Inland Empire United Way to help rejuvenate the school, said Daniel Perez, a CSUSB alumnus and member of AmeriCorps, who was in charge of the project.

“This is our way of giving back to the community,” said Perez, who graduated in 2017 with a master’s degree in business administration. “We want to make the school more aesthetically pleasing to the students, and help them feel proud of their school.”

Diane Podolske of the CSUSB Office of Community Engagement (OCE) said the project was a “fantastic way to celebrate Make A Difference Day and, at the same time, show the students at Live Oak that people care.”

More than 76 CSUSB students, including many freshmen and members of the university’s Honors Program, were working alongside the other volunteers, many of them from the local community and from United Parcel Service, said Bryant Fairly of the OCE. Live Oak was chosen because of the students’ needs, as most of them are from low-income households. All the students at Live Oak receive free or reduced cost meals, Fairly said. Without that, most would not have breakfast or lunch, he said.

The painting project was designed to brighten up the school and school grounds, and in turn instill a sense of pride to the students, said Live Oaks Elementary School Principal Patricia Corral.

“I’m overwhelmed at the amount of volunteers and their caring spirit,” Corral said. “Our students will be excited to see the school. I think it will bring them much more pride in their school.”

Felita Jones, the president and chief executive officer of the Inland Empire United Way, said the hope is that when the students see their rejuvenated school, they will take greater pride in it and in turn be inspired to do better in school.

Evelyn Knox, an academic adviser and student success peer advising coordinator for the CSUSB Advising and Academic Services and lecturer, brought her class to volunteer.

“This is a great way to introduce our students to what we do at the university to help others,” said Knox, who is a CSUSB alumna with bachelor’s and master’s degrees. “But it’s also going to have a ripple effect on the (Live Oak) students. They will remember the volunteers and remember Cal State San Bernardino.”

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