Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Great or Sad: Hands on Atlanta Day at Cross Keys Sat 10/3

This just in - media advisory from DCSS w/ Dr. McMillian as contact person
Hands-on Atlanta Day
sponsored by
Newell Rubbermaid
Saturday, October 3, 2009 ,
8:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
at Cross Keys High School

"Several outdoor beautification initiatives are being considered to enhance and beautify Cross Keys HS. To list a few, Newell Rubbermaid plans to assist with storage solutions (yeah for teachers ! my comment) and paint bathrooms and breezeways; all as a part of the make-over project.

When DCSS fails you, who ya gonna call!?
Rubbermaid and volunteers!!

It might be a great chance for interested neighbors to have a visit and help CKHS a bit.


Kim Gokce said...

Thanks, greenie, for posting this item. This is a major event for Rubbermaid Newell employees but they do welcome individual volunteers to join them.

I'll meet anyone who wants to help at 7:30am at the Waffle House on Peachtree/Dresden and get you a 10% discount for your breakfast. I'll be sitting in "Abu's" booth :)

If you think of Waffle House as a dark and greasy place, you haven't enjoyed Brookhaven's ... it is recently renovated and has an all glass front and side and is very bright and cheery. You'd get the added bonus of seeing Abu's jersey and bio on the wall.

To Blog Readers: I did not mean to hijack the blog today for CKHS - my post was a coincidence with greenie's.

Cerebration said...

You can hijack the blog anytime!

No Duh said...

Don't know how to interpret Greenie's "Great or Sad" headline. But, want to say...

HOA has been holding this huge city wide event for years. Their HOA Day involves thousands of volunteers at hundreds of projects. They come into a LOT of schools on their big HOA Day.

So, CKHS shouldn't feel ashamed that outside volunteers have choosen their school to spruce up. HOA has come to Evansdale -- and Evansdale is known to have one of the highest parent-involvement percentages in the county.

The volunteers typically do projects around the school that DCSS doesn't have the staff to do consistently. The volunteers will probably paint, do a lot of outside work in the lawn, in the flower beds, spread mulch -- maybe build raised garden beds, etc. I don't think they will do actual "maintenance" i.e. fix broken faucets or replace toilets or anything like that. Hey, but don't quote me -- I'm sure DCSS will take whatever they can from HOA and the big companies that support HOA Day.

I see it only as "Great" -- CKHS gets a free facelift and gets to inform a whole group of Rubbermain Newell employees about its successes and challenges.

Anonymous said...

I belive it is sad. Sad that the DCSS Central Office and Sam Mos leadership ha virtually ignored the facility and grounds need at Cross Keys. Please walk in an around the school, and you'll be horrified at its condition. Any superindent and facilities & grounds director worth his/her salt would be beyond embarassed. The Hands On Atlanta Day is a great event, but the needs at Cross Keys are enough to question the competency of the Central office and Sam Moss leadership. No joke, it's really that bad at Cross Keys.

Paula Caldarella said...

At my children's elementary and middle schools, there were, and still are, several "Clean and Beautiful" work days during the school year where parents work the outside of the schools. Perhaps something can be arranged for Cross Keys if this is not something they do not already have going. Would Cross Keys be a good spot for a "community garden"?

Kim, does Cross Keys have a PTA?

Cerebration said...

Oh boy. It's absolutely great that HOA is going to work at CKHS - but you all need to stop thinking of it as similar to most of your schools - that just need occasional sprucing up. Go there. Walk the grounds. There are no flower beds. There is no "lawn". Of course, you could actually mow the track.

I hope HOA has access to a backhoe!

Paula Caldarella said...

There is no "lawn" at my child's elementary school, but we did pick up fallen limbs, rake leaves, plant flowers, install benches, that kind of thing. It's also more of an event to try and get parents involved in their children's school as well.

Kim Gokce said...

While I do not have the detailed work plans, my understanding is that Rubbbermaid Newell does a fantastic job of managing the work. This year, while they will be doing all sorts of work like you all have described, I believe a focus will be placed on projects to help the students and faculty survive the disruptions of the renovation. So, storage management solutions may be a big part of the effort.

While I do not anticipate seeing many parents there, I know there will be students there. I spoke to their Interact Club last week and part of their agenda was getting parent waivers signed so they could participate in the work. A very impressive young group!

Regarding the condition of the school facilities, there is no doubt that CKHS has suffered from many years of special circumstances. For many years, signals from the County have been that the school was destined to be closed and/or sold. While that is no longer a widely supported rumor (and completely impractical imho), I still run into business owners nearby the school who have stopped supporting the school because they understood "it was going away."

The community at large has rendered a great disservice to the school over the years. The erosion of support for the school has been a decades long process. From what I can reverse engineer of its history, the lowest point was reach between 3-5 years ago.

For all sorts of reasons, there is a reversal of CKHS' fortunes in the making and I have been doing everything I know how to do to assist in that.

Put aside all the politics and history and imagine your local high school with virtually zero parental involvement ... can you? No active PTA, no active booster clubs, no foundations, nada. Few or no business supporters. Mix in the poverty and language issues and enigmatic representation by system leadership. Imagine that situation for years and years and what that would do to your high school. That is Cross Keys HS.

Dr. Lewis calls this year the Year of the Parent for good reason - without parent support, no DCSS school could be "premier." In the absence of parental groups at CKHS, I am bringing private sector and civic sector advocacy to bear on the school's needs. While it is no substitute, I feel morally obligated to attempt to support our local high school until parent groups once again flourish there.

One of the seniors in the Interact Club commented that she had been told for her entire 4 years that "the County was going to renovate the school." She doesn't believe they are going to finish the job they've started this year. How sad that the older students themselves have been infected with this cynicism and hopelessness by us.

Many of the students and faculty at CKHS are demoralized after years of the overall situation. The young people are resilient and impress me with their handling of their circumstances but I do detect hints that they take it personally and don't think they are treated fairly.

By doing what we can with our own two hands and our voices, we can help combat this very, very disturbing situation. I made a private vow this summer to a sophomore that the incoming freshman would have a very different four years than their predecessors and challenged her to be part of that positive change.

I appreciate any help anyone is willing to provide for any reason. I told a system leader who was concerned I was playing on sympathies to get support that I did not care what people thought as long as they wrote a check or showed up with work gloves.

My offer to meet for breakfast stands - hope to see community members there at 7:30am Saturday! I'll be sure to bring perspective back to the blog on the event but it may be a week or so due to workload.

No Duh said...

Anon 8:44 -- I know it's bad at CKHS. But, the pitching in for any amount of work is great in my opinion.

Kim, have you ever asked the students -- particularly those who will be working on Saturday why their parents won't come to the school and help? Why their parents don't want to be members of the PTA? Has anyone ever asked the students to ask their parents to become involved? Maybe it's time to start asking the students to recruit the parents.

Kim Gokce said...

@No Duh: "Has anyone ever asked the students to ask their parents to become involved? Maybe
it's time to start asking the students to recruit the parents."

There is an ongoing effort in this regard and the kids are fantastic ambassadors for the school.

From what I have learned from students, alumni, and faculty, the issues for parents range from holding down multiple jobs, to language barriers (the kids speak English, the parents do not in many cases), to a lack of understanding of the necessity.

In Mexico, for example, public education is mandatory only through the 6th grade, Vietnam no better, and many more countries of origin with similar expectations - many parents are simply thrilled to have a middle and high school to send their kids to and can't imagine a need for direct involvement.

Also, there is a posture towards authority of respect even reverence that keeps many parents on the benches - a kind of deference a homegrown U.S.parent would never assume. And, hate to say it, there is also a certain number of parents who are here illegally and do not want to be above the radar.

As with many problems at CKHS, parental involvement is a multi-rooted problem. The faculty is reaching out into the communities in every way possible and we are slowly seeing small improvements.

No one should misunderstand this lack of activism or advocacy among immigrant parents as apathy - these parents are more involved in their kids lives than most. They dine at home with their kids every night and, in many cases, go to the ESes to lunch with them. They simply do not have the activist posture or experience that comes naturally to home grown parents in the good old US of A.

Kim Gokce said...

I left off transportation ... don't forget that many of our kids are 8 miles away from Cross Keys in Doraville.

For example, there was not a single parent at the band's performance at Waffle House Saturday. The kids made it because we paid for County buses. Many parents do not have transportation and rely on MARTA schedules. Teacher/Parent meetings are inhibited by the same issue.

Cerebration said...

Why would anyone think it is a parental involvement issue when a school is lacking healthy facilities, abundant textbooks and resources and a gym and outdoor facilities that are not hazardous to use?

I can see parental involvement as far as bringing in the extras - but good lord, this is no excuse for neglecting the basics. Our tax dollars are supposed to pay for these things - for everyone!