Austin Firesheets is taller than some of his LSU classmates, so he got to paint the higher parts of rusty exterior window frames at Robert E. Lee High School Saturday morning.
Firesheets, 18, who is 6 feet tall and a 2012 graduate of Central High School, was one of nearly 800 LSU freshman class members who scraped, painted, cleaned and generally spruced up nine East Baton Rouge Parish School District schools during the 10th annual LSU Community Bound volunteer program.
The event, part of the LSU Campus Life and LSU Honors College, is designed to introduce the students to each other and provide a way they can give something back to the community.
“My parents went here, actually,” said Firesheets, an electrical engineering major whose parents graduated from Lee High in the early 1970s. The fact that more than 100 students were painting and cleaning showed, Firesheets said, that “there are quite a few young people in my generation who are compassionate and thoughtful of others.”
In a nearly-dark locker room, Colleen Murphy, Carly Gilliland and Adrianne Poe were spraying the lockers with cleanser and wiping them off with rags.
“They really need it, we just found gum,” said Murphy, 18, a graduate of St. Mary’s Dominican in New Orleans.
“Something I love to do is to give back to a community that gives to LSU,” said Poe, 18, of Lake Charles.
Gilliland added, “it feels really good to help out these schools.”
Over at Glasgow Middle School, another busload of freshman students were also painting and cleaning up the building as a downpour soaked the city.
“This helps to create an environment that shows our students we value them and we want them to come to a place where learning happens,” said Principal Dianne Talbot as lightning lit up the dark sky.
“We also want the community and the neighborhood to know we want to be a good neighbor by having a nice facility.”
Earlier, before the students fanned out across the city, they met for a briefing in the LSU Student Union Theater while two dozen buses idled outside. LSU and East Baton Rouge School District officials thanked them and encouraged them to continue volunteering.
“What you are doing is a prime example of what we want our students to do,” Baton Rouge Schools Superintendent Bernard Taylor told the group, “to give to their community, to support others and to serve as leaders to those around them.”
School Board President Barbara Freiberg told them, “you will be affecting the lives of 8,000 students.
“We appreciate more than you know what you are giving to this district.”
LSU Student Government President Richmond “Taylor” Cox reminded the students that their LSU education would be only a small part of their lifetime experiences.
“It is our responsibility to take that education to give back to the people of our communities, to give back to the people of Louisiana and to give back to our world,” Cox said.
Interim LSU System President and Chancellor William Jenkins told the students he was very proud of them. “It is so fundamental today that we serve one another and assist one another and especially those who perhaps are less well off than we are.”
Kaylah Williams, an LSU junior and special events coordinator who was managing the organized chaos out in the Student Union hallway, said the event was important because, “We want to be able to instill that value of community into the freshmen.”
Students were assigned to Robert E. Lee High School, Westdale Middle, Glasgow Middle School, Baton Rouge Foreign Language Academic Immersion Magnet, Wildwood Elementary School, Magnolia Woods Elementary School, Wedgewood Elementary School, Westminster Elementary School and Westdale Heights Academic Magnet Elementary School.
For more information, visit the Volunteer LSU website at http://volunteer.lsu.edu, email Volunteer LSU at email@example.com or call (225) 578-5160.