Interim Chancellor John K. Pierre and law students joined with Volunteers In Public Schools’ (VIPS) for a Martin Luther King, Jr., (MLK) Day of Service cleanup project at Park Forest Elementary School, Monday, January 18.
The law student volunteers, armed with sponges and pails of soap and water, donned rubber gloves to clean classrooms, including computer stations, student chairs and desks, and work tables. They also helped to organize books and supplies in the school library, classrooms, and storage areas.
According to VIPS Partners in Education Coordinator Lynelle T. Dixon, “VIPS cannot exist, let alone thrive, without a passionate and committed volunteer base.”
“I believe the Park Forest students will appreciate the ‘heart’ work the SULC students put into making their school a little more beautiful,” Dixon said. “Southern Law has been a vibrant part of the Baton Rouge education community for many decades, and with service projects like this one, it will continue to stand strong or even stronger.”
The one-day service project was a fulfilling experience for the law student volunteers to honor the life and legacy of King by helping an area public school.
“I not only enjoyed volunteering, but I also enjoyed being in the company of fellow classmates who were also eager to be of service,” said Jasmine Henderson, 3L class president. “I encourage others to volunteer their time to serve someone else,” Henderson said.
Alvarez J. Hertzock III, Evening Division representative, said seeing President Obama and the First Family volunteer every MLK Day is what inspired him to participate in the project this year. “I hope to continue to give my time and energy every year, and as often as I can to give back to my community,” Hertzock said.
Additionally, the law student said that he brought along with him two brothers, Hezekiah and Christopher Harbor, to be surrounded by and have conversations with positive, educated young students in their community. The proud mentor of the two teens stated that Hezekiah has retained an A/B Honor Roll status and plays baseball and basketball, in addition to practicing karate, aspires to go to law school to become a criminal defense attorney. Christopher practices karate as well, and wants to be a zoologist or veterinarian. “To watch them engage with other law students and have their dreams further supported in such a positive light was a very good experience for me,” Hertzock said.
“Volunteering with Park Forest Elementary reminded me that the holiday is not merely a day off, but in fact a day on: a day on for service; as well as a day on to strengthen community, improve lives, and to connect with others,” said 2L student Robin Winn. “I’m glad SULC lives service out loud and I was honored to be a part of the day’s activities.“
Interim John Pierre says he is always proud that SULC students are willing to “make sacrifices and share their valuable time and energy engaging in community-based activities.”
“Their willingness to assist in making our communities better embodies the lawyer-leader model that SULC students embrace,” Pierre said.
Park Forest principal Antoniette Pierre welcomed the law students’ involvement and said she felt that the elementary school students could benefit greatly from a cleaner environment at the school thanks to the SULC volunteers.
The volunteers take time out from cleaning to take a group photo. Pictured on front row, from left are Antoniette Pierre, Park Forest School principal, Madison Preparatory Academy student Hezekiah Harbor, Danielle Davis, Community School for Apprenticeship Learning (CSAL) student Chris Harbor, Robin Winn, Miah Hill, Veronika Mark, Mya Strauss, Lierica Boutte, Otia Bowie, Kara Brown, and Taylor Johnson: and back row, from left: Courtney
Scott, Angela Jackson, Alvarez Hertzock, Wyatt Jamison, Tiara Barnes, Hunter Thomas, Interim Chancellor John Pierre, Jasmine Henderson, and Jason Yancey.
Cleaning classroom chairs at Park Forest Elementary School are volunteers Hezekiah Harbor, with law students Mya Strauss and Danielle Davis.