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The 2021-22 school year will be one of one newness and freshness at Carlson Elementary. Not only does the school have a new principal, but some of its interior will have a new energy. Principal …
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The 2021-22 school year will be one of one newness and freshness at Carlson Elementary. Not only does the school have a new principal, but some of its interior will have a new energy.
Principal Loraine Swartz said that, with the district shifting to a more experience-based learning model, she wanted to add a change in atmosphere to help reinforce that.
“My goal for our year is to focus on what makes learning wonderful,” she said on July 21, “and part of that is creating a space that feels bright and cheerful.”
So, Swartz and her colleagues from the Carlson PTA sent up the proverbial Bat-Signal and asked for volunteers to help with painting and other projects around the school on July 17.
About 25 students, parents, teachers, and community members spent most of their Saturday working on a dozen projects around the school. The bigger projects were striping off wallpaper, putting on fresh coats of paint, and taking old computer lab tables out of the library.
Swartz and other volunteers brought snacks, the PTA provided lunch, and many were playing music in their work areas throughout the day.
“It was one of those good Clear Creek days,” PTA President Kelly Flenniken, who was among the volunteers, said on July 22. “ … Everyone was really happy to be together.”
Flenniken and her husband spent much of the day repainting a section of the library, with their kids coming and going from the new playground. When they left, they got to see just how much progress everyone else had made on their projects in such a short time.
Swartz commented: “It was community-building. It was beautiful. It felt joyful and happy.”
Swartz said staff members and a few community members will wrap up the remaining projects before school starts, so Carlson won’t need to host another volunteer day.
However, she and Flenniken both wanted to invite the entire community to Carlson’s Back to School Night from 4-6 p.m. on Aug. 12. The event will be an opportunity to showcase all the changes around the school and thank the community for its help with the new playground, Swartz explained.
Flenniken believed that everyone, but especially students, will be surprised and happy to see all the changes. She also described it as “a great way to start a new school year.”
Flenniken clarified that, while the PTA helped support and promote the event, it was really Swartz’s idea and vision.
“She gives a lot of time above and beyond,” Flenniken said of Swartz. “She’s a talented educator, and she cares deeply about the kids and the community. You can feel that from her.”
Although she has a ton of tasks to finish before school starts, Swartz said she’s giddy with excitement and hopeful about the direction Carlson Elementary is going in, especially regarding the shift to experiential learning.
“The school is dedicated to creating joyful learning experiences for children,” she continued.
“I believe we’re an amazing school already, and there’s always room for growth.”
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