After 14 years of faithful service, Highland Elementary School’s volunteer group To Highland With Love was honored on Tuesday for its sustained efforts on behalf of
the school, its students and staff.
To Highland With Love was awarded the Crystal Apple at Volunteers in Public Service’s 2012 Volunteer Picnic and Apple Awards ceremony at University Baptist Church.
The Crystal Apple is VIPS’ top volunteering award and is given to an individual or group who has served with VIPS for at least 10 years.
Patty Noland, To Highland With Love’s coordinator, accepted the award on the group’s behalf.
In an interview after the ceremony, Noland praised the work of her group, which uses faith as a guiding principle.
“This gives us an opportunity to be an expression of God’s love,” Noland said.
To Highland With Love does work as simple as providing “teacher treats” or as large as helping obtain air conditioning for Highland Elementary’s cafeteria.
The group began with just six volunteers but now has about 400 volunteers contribute each year.
“We have a very dedicated team of volunteers who love being involved in this ministry,” Noland said.
VIPS also honored volunteers in four other categories as Golden Apple winners for their dedication and service in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System.
Claire Broering was named best elementary school volunteer for her work at Magnolia Woods Elementary School, while Brian Nance of Glen Oaks High School won the secondary school volunteer of the year award.
Matthew Coates, of Istrouma High School, won volunteer organizer of the year. Security Dads, a volunteer group with Glen Oaks High School, was honored as community partner of the year.
East Baton Rouge Parish Assistant Superintendent David Phillips, speaking on behalf of interim Superintendent Carlos Sam, commended the volunteers.
He said volunteers are needed more than ever at a time when public school systems have come under fire.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s sweeping measures regarding public school teacher tenure and financial aid for public school students to attend private schools passed through the Legislature, and a proposal for a breakaway school district in southeast Baton Rouge is headed to the House Education Committee.
“We need more of our citizens to step up, to step forward, step out and volunteer in the spirit of cooperation rather than in the spirit of competition, pitting neighborhoods against neighborhoods,” he said.
Host Matt Williams, a WAFB-TV anchor, thanked the volunteers for their service. He said he has a daughter in the first grade in an East Baton Rouge Parish public school.
“It’s partly because of you that my child is behaving,” Williams joked to the crowd.