Poage Elementary Starts Build Ashland Junior

Lisa Patrick

The Ashland Beacon


    The effort to get citizens to start taking more pride in their community is now reaching the younger generation.

Poage Elementary recently started a Build Ashland Junior program that will first help students to take pride in their school, and then branch out into their community.

   “Build Ashland is a partner with Poage and with Hager in the 21st Century Learning Grant that they received to start the ‘Lights on After School’ program,” Poage Elementary teacher, Betsy Moore said. “During the first hour of the after-school program, they provide tutoring and homework help. During the second hour, they do enrichment activities.”

   Moore shared that she was interested in starting recycling in the classrooms because the students and school use a lot of recyclable materials every day. She thought it would be a good thing that the after-school program could keep up with.

   “I contacted Marty Gute, city commissioner and Build Ashland member, about the recycling effort,” Moore said. “He contacted me back, and he asked what I thought about Poage starting a junior Build Ashland.”     Moore had a meeting with Gute, and two other Build Ashland members, Diamond Lewis, and Blake Gillum. From there, Build Ashland Jr. had their first meeting Monday. They are beginning with fourth and fifth graders, and the meeting is what Poage Principal, Katie Holbrook, referred to as their “brainstorming session” with the students and Gute.

   “Build Ashland is about being proud of our community and taking care of it,” Holbrook said. “We want to instill that in our children and starting with this school.”

   Currently, students are working on their very first project as part of the Build Ashland Jr. program, and Monday during the after-school program they will be cleaning the grounds of the school.

   Students in the program are going to go out and check for litter, and Moore hopes to help them realize that just because they didn’t throw it down doesn’t mean they can’t pick it up.

   “I hope that picking up the trash will build up their pride,” Holbrook said.

   Holbrook said they let the students brainstorm and come up with ideas. On top of the recycling, the students want to do some landscaping around the school. She also said that one of the little girls suggested helping some of the elderly neighbors around the school.

   “We are going to try to find some of the elderly homeowners around the school and see if they need help with things such as pulling weeds in their garden or raking leaves this fall,” Moore said.

   Moore hopes that the next time Build Ashland has a Saturday event, to maybe meet up with them and take part in the bigger picture of Build Ashland, too. She shared that they are going to get “Build Ashland Jr.” T-shirts for the students. She also hopes Hager Elementary picks up on the program because they are in the grant together.

   “This could be a game-changer for getting the children invested in the community because they are going to grow up and live here. So why not have them start taking care of it now so that they continue to do so down the road,” Holbrook said.

   Moore said one of the things that they tried to talk to the students about during their first meeting was that “one of these days it’s going to be your children coming to this school” and we want them to have pride in it and to teach their children to take pride in it too.

   The Build Ashland Jr. program will take place Monday nights of the after-school program at first, but Moore hopes that it will eventually lead to having more nights and then drop down to include third graders, and possibly second-graders at some point. She said that she also wants to do things like give them “little jobs that need to be done to make the school look better,” such as cleaning the computers.

   Moore stated that her vision of the BA Jr. program is for her to be supervising but to have “four or five children doing this project... four or five children doing that project” but for all of them to just be “doing what needs to be done.”

   Holbrook said that she is “really excited to get this started” and to get their names into the community. She said that this program will get the “children to take pride in their area, their school, and their community.”