Volunteers from New Life Community Church

By Tom Markland

HEDGESVILLE – As students and teachers at Hedgesville Middle School return to school on Monday, they’ll notice new paint on the walls, new flowers outside and even a new sound system in the school’s cafeteria.

The work was done over the weekend by almost 200 volunteers, organized by New Life Community Church as part of their “Mobilize” initiative.

“We want the school, the teachers and the children when they come into school on Monday to be blown away,” said Pastor Ryan Parsons, who has led the initiative at several schools across the county. “This is kind of like an extreme home makeover edition for schools.”

Inside the school, volunteers painted walls and stairs, fixed ceiling tiles, and many even cleaned gum off of the bleachers in the nearly 100-year-old school’s gym. Outside, they helped with tasks like landscaping, clearing brush from pathways and spreading mulch.

Volunteers even worked with the nearby baseball complex, with tasks like repainting dugouts.

“If we’re going to throw our energies into something, might as well throw it into something that’s going to help more people and especially the children of our community,” Parsons said.

According to Parsons, the program started about nine years ago as New Life Community Church was searching for ways to value the “Community” part of their name. Over the years, they’ve helped many different local schools, including Martinsburg High School, Hedgesville High School, Rosemont Elementary and many others.

When they approached administrators at Hedgesville Middle School with the idea, they asked for a list of ‘dream tasks’ for volunteers to complete. In the end, they came up with about 70 different tasks around the school.

“This is such a blessing because it’s things that need to be done but are pushed to aside because our main focus is cleaning our classrooms, hallways, bathrooms, and making sure they’re ready for kids every single day,” said Elizabeth Adams, the school’s principal, “I’m just so blessed and thankful and excited to see this transformation.”

For Adams, one of the most important jobs was changing the color of the paint in the school’s main hall from the light blue it had been painted in the past to a navy blue, which better reflects the school’s colors.

Adams says that over the summer, a gold stripe down the middle will be added, hoping to make the school feel more spirited.

“We talk about the Hedgesville way of doing things. Things like, you know, if you see a piece of paper on the floor, you pick it up, even if you’re not the person who dropped it,” Adams said. “I’m hoping that, having our school refreshed will really help kids take pride and ownership in their school.”