Walla Walla students build and paint desks for younger students without workspace
WALLA WALLA, Wash. – After weeks of work, 25 students from Sharpstein Elementary School now have a one-of-a-kind desk.
“Day one of distance learning, kids laying on couches or sitting on beds,” Principal Maria Garcia said.
Garcia realized how big the need was when they started school; students without a desk were distracted.
“They’re doing the best they can with what they have but right away, it became clear that there was a need for support for learning spaces at home,” she said.
One of Garcia’s teachers found a model they could build so, she took to social media and asked for help.
“That’s when Eric Matson’s wife, Jennifer responded and I do think she ‘volun-told’ him,” she laughed.
“I think my wife may have said ‘he’ll do it!’ It might’ve been that, you know, so I’m good with that,” Matson added.
Matson is the SEATech Instructor for Walla Walla Public Schools. He was able to get materials donated from Builders First Source and Jackson Contractor Group to build the desks with his students. Then, they needed to be painted, so he enlisted the help of local artist Brad Rude, to teach his students via Zoom.
“At that point, it turned into an art lesson in my class where students then came and picked them up. I created a kit and they took them home,” Matson said.
Twenty-five students took a desk home to paint it with a unique design. Then Matson picked them up and dropped them back off at the school, where teachers gathered to pick them up and deliver to their students.
The designs were nothing short of amazing.
“It’s pretty amazing to see just their thought process,” Matson said.
“Makes me feel blown away by the generosity of these kids and just grateful that they had the opportunity to give back,” Garcia added.
Some of them had words of encouragement written on the bottom, for students like Jasmine Leal.
“I think it’s gonna be really good for me,” she said after the teachers delivered her desk.
“It’s gonna make a huge difference, yeah, just having their own space a place where they can keep their things,” Garcia said.
“Thank you because I really needed this,” Leal added.
Jasmine’s desk was hand picked with a motivational phrase.
“Work hard means that learn, and you just work hard basically,” she said.
Matson said, the project not only benefits the students who received the desks, but the teens who worked on them.
“They just needed some hope, something to believe in. They love the idea of being able to help the community and help the little ones that they know,” Matson said.
You can learn more about the project here.
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