By Leacy Burton
A school does not serve as just a learning environment. It’s a place where children learn to develop relationships, create memories, grow cognitive skills and explore who they are as a person. The hallways create new paths for students to spark wonder and joy, but those same halls create a safe space. You never know what children are going through at home, which is why having the perfect learning environment for every child is crucial.
A child’s early years set up the foundation for the rest of their lives, making elementary schools the trunk of their tree. Attending elementary school establishes one of the first steps of independence, self-consciousness and personality development. Research proves that highly engaging learning spaces keep students’ attention and focus when in classrooms. It also encourages higher levels of critical thinking and analytical skills.
Without organizations like Project Makeover, children would lose out on the ability to take flight in their learning and grow into their tallest self. The team members and volunteers of this organization pride themselves on ensuring each space we touch will impact the lives of every student, so kids can just be kids.
As Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
We want students in Alachua County and across the nation to love going to school, create a strong foundation for the future and make a real impact in their own future to keep changing generations. After all, it’s all for the joy of learning.
By Leacy Burton
November is National Gratitude Month and with so many holidays around the corner, we can’t help but share our appreciation for all the love and support shown by our stakeholders.
Without the generosity of our PM members, volunteers, alumni, donors and residents of the Alachua County community, we would not be able to make a real impact for elementary school students.
Copywriter Coordinator Leacy Burton shares why she is thankful to be part of Project Makeover:
“Project Makeover is a niche organization for the University of Florida’s students and Alachua County community members to be part of. PM goes well beyond a weekend renovation, it’s the idea that a group of people can come together for equal opportunity and help create learning spaces for children that will forever impact their lives,” she said. “I am truly thankful for Project Makeover because it has given me the chance to reflect on the opportunities I had while in elementary school and take action on how to make that happen for everyone. PM is a positive organization that will give you life-long friends.”
As we prepare for the holidays, dive into finals, wrap up the end of a quarter and get ready for a new year, let’s take time to cherish nonprofit organizations in the community and the people who support them. We show extended gratitude to all of those who have helped us get to where we are today.
Gainesville resident Rowan Cass expresses her gratitude for Project Makeover:
“I’ve grown in up in Gainesville my whole life, so I have gotten to see the changes in our school systems over the years. You can truly see the happiness Project Makeover brings to the community and elementary school students,” she said. “I loved it so much that in 2019 I volunteered at the Makeover Weekend event. It was such a fun experience; I highly recommend it. I am thankful for organizations like Project Makeover because they help support underrepresented groups, like elementary school students’ education.”
By Alexa Ayala
This past Saturday, Project Makeover held its annual Mini Makeover for Prairie View Campus housing Idylwild Elementary School! From staff to captains to coordinators to the executive board, the entire team came together to make a difference for this school and its kids. Each team worked on their incredible projects to make Mini Makeover a success.
Project Makeover has had some huge growth this past week because it was PM Fundraising Week! The finance team took charge and led our team in different “fun-raising” initiatives. We are so excited to keep moving forward in the direction of our fundraising goals. In our first exec member highlight series, we want to give a huge shoutout to Paris Kemeny, our finance manager. Paris is a 4th-year information systems major and is enrolled in the combined degree program to seek her master’s in international business.
She joined PM because as a child her military family moved around frequently and going to school was one of the most consistent aspects in her life. She now recognizes that the excitement of learning was instilled in her at a young age and believes Project Makeover’s mission can instill that same excitement in the local community’s next generation of learners. Paris is from Panama City, Florida, but since her parents served in the military, she spent seven years of her childhood growing up in Japan.
Her favorite thing about PM is learning everyone’s “Why PM.”
“We all have different early education stories, but something sparked in each member of the team that has made us passionate about Project Makeover in a variety of ways,” said Paris. “I think this is super important because it shows we are united for one purpose but don’t ever forget we come from different backgrounds.”
Outside of PM, Paris loves pilates, traveling and watching the New Orleans Saints. She’s also a CAP Mentor in the business school, which assists students with next steps after college through resume building and mock interviews. Between CAP and PM, Paris can help both the youngest learners and the oldest ones too!
By Alexa Ayala
It’s finally fall, which means there are so many things to look forward to aside from the chilly weather and holidays! Project Makeover has a ton of opportunities to get involved and make an impact, and it’s never too late to make a difference.
So many people think that Project Makeover is just one weekend out of the entire school year where everyone comes together to create a dynamic and magical learning environment for an elementary school. While Makeover Weekend is our biggest event of the year, there are so many other events and fun things planned that have us falling for PM this fall!
It’s warm and bright in Gator Nation this summer! Project Makeover takes great pride in continuing to craft our skills to build beautiful learning spaces for elementary school students. Whether you catch us on campus or on the go, PM members love to stay creative and active. So what are some of our favorite ways to ignite creativity?
Zyrkxis Macatol, a member of our Internal Communications team, spends his summer finding creativity through self-love. He says getting the appropriate amount of rest and feeding his body properly helps boost creativity. Zyrkxis likes to spend time scrolling through Pinterest, Instagram Explore and Vsco.
With the goal to inspire students to “Dream Big,” Project Makeover headed out to Prairie View Campus housing Idylwild Elementary School for Makeover Weekend 2021. Over the course of five days, our team was able to paint murals, plant new greenery, and even build an outdoor classroom, all with the intention of inspiring elementary school students to explore.
Makeover Weekend was a much-anticipated event, but due to these unprecedented times we were unsure if it could happen. However with the collaboration of our team and leaders, we were able to host Makeover Weekend safely. Team members and volunteers followed social distance guidelines, wore masks and even used QR Codes to track contact tracing.
After a year of ups and downs, it’s great to take a moment to reflect on the good. C.W. Norton Elementary School was given a makeover of a lifetime last February.
“It’s like Christmas day every day,” Kathrine Faenza, a third-grade teacher from the elementary school, said. She couldn’t stop smiling as she shared her school’s experience with Project Makeover.
Project Makeover came to C.W. Norton from February 21-23, 2020 to landscape, paint, and construct new ways for students to learn.
We dedicate the month of February to all of the trailblazing Black men and women throughout history. As we move forward as a nation with a promising future of creating more promising futures, it is important to highlight the imperative aspect of Black culture that keeps Black communities connected and thriving: art and creative.
The unprecedented challenges of a global pandemic and the increased racial tension and injustice that were presented in 2020, were felt by most minority communities, especially Black communities and Black youth. During these times, art has surpassed just being a form of self-expression, it has taken the form of activism and advocacy. However, this hasn’t been the only time Black art and expression have played an integral role in bringing Black communities together.
Throughout history, many Black artists emerged conveying messages throughout historical events, such as the Harlem Renaissance and the civil rights movement, to uplift Black voices. Project Makeover would like to dedicate Black History Month to celebrate just a few of the most influential Black creatives.
STEAM is a progression of STEM which stands for “Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.” STEAM acknowledges the importance of art in education and it appeals to a diverse number of students rather than a few interested in just STEM. STEAM investigates the same scientific topics of STEM but it does so in the inquiry and problem-solving that goes on in the creative process. Adding art in STEM allows for children to access the creative side of their brain and not use just the left brain or right brain but both. As Leonardo da Vinci has said in his support for art in education, “Study the science of art. Study the art of science.” Studying art with STEM provides a well-rounded education for students.