Education center given a new look by volunteers

The Pacific Avenue Education Center on Saturday got the first part of its makeover — a result of about 100 volunteers who tilled soil, demolished old cabinetry and repainted classrooms.

Most of the volunteers were from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints La Crescenta Stake, who showed up Saturday morning ready to use saws and paintbrushes to refresh the campus for students and teachers on Monday.

“We’re just here to be manual labor,” said Lisa Grigg, director of public affairs for the La Crescenta Stake, which includes church congregations from Glendale, La Cañada and Sunland-Tujunga.

It was a declaration Site Administrator Linda Conover was only too happy to oblige, sending crews to repaint weathered classroom bungalows, tear out old cabinets for new storage space and construct a brick wall for a garden she said special education students have been eagerly awaiting.

“I’m just amazed,” Conover said as she watched the crews — which included members ranging from teens to seniors — chip away at their projects.

The campus hosts a range of educational services, from a post-high-school program for disabled students to an academy for at-risk youth and even a preschool.

Out at the back of the campus, volunteers for the Fil-Am Kiwanis of Glendale prepared a large section of soil that was previously paved over for a planting event scheduled for Saturday — installing a sprinkler system and other “hardscape” items, said Marlene Cagatao, immediate past president for the group.

“We thought, ‘How can the kids survive without green?’” she said.

Outside the classrooms, amid the loud wail of a saw to cut the wooden cabinet pieces down to a more disposable size, volunteer Charles Woodhorse said the project also provided an opportunity to do something with his two sons other than the more typical Saturday mall event.

“This beats that any day,” he said.

When all is said and done, the campus sprucing is sure to make life on this grayish site a bit brighter, Conover said.

“This just beautifies, and when people come visit they get a sense of pride,” she said.

The school, formerly Edison Elementary, is across the street on Pacific Avenue from the new Thomas Edison Elementary School — a major joint venture with the city that includes Pacific Park.

That site, with all its modern amenities and architecture, provides students with a community center, high-tech library and the proximity of a park.

The site improvements that La Crescenta Stake volunteers undertook Saturday goes a long way in providing students — which range in age from 3 to 22 — and their teachers with a better environment, Conover said.

“This is what our kids need and what they deserve,” she said.

The Fil-Am Kiwanis of Glendale planting event is open to anyone in the community who would like to help install sod and plant trees and shrubs from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at the back of the campus, Cagatao said.

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