Robert M. LazersRobert M. Lazers is the assistant principal at Charles N. Holden School, one of the 32 sites we’ll be working on at Serve-a-thon 2011.

As an administrator, I see how the community looks out for our students. However, the students themselves are not always aware of the many groups who donate money or supplies, or who facilitate professional development activities for faculty. Chicago Cares is doing the important work of showing our students how much the community values their education.

Charles N. Holden School, located in the Bridgeport neighborhood, has a diverse student body of approximately 600 Pre-K through 8th graders. The school building has been around for over 100 years. As students have come and gone through the doors of Holden, they have been welcomed by a warm and inviting staff and received a strong educational foundation.

For the past ten years, Holden has been a Technology and Art Magnet Cluster school. As part of thisWild Things at Holden School programming, our students conceived and built art pieces throughout the building.  For example, anyone visiting is welcomed by a large reproduction of George Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte; on the second floor is a paper mache hippopotamus and giraffe; and in the basement, students eat with a life-sized Wild Thing monster from the book Where the Wild Things Are.

All of these pieces and others like them were created by the students for the students. However, the condition of the building does not match the amazing works of art that have been dedicated to the students and community of Charles N. Holden School. We know that it’s important for students to feel that their educational environment enhances their learning, unfortunately, in these economic times, we do not have the resources to repair and keep up the building.

Chicago Cares has given us the opportunity to renew our school. Thanks to the support of Chicago Cares and the work of its extraordinary volunteers, Holden will have newly painted walls in the hallway and stairs, lush landscaping to surround the school grounds, and inspirational murals upon the walls. These changes will make a tremendous difference to the students.

Chicago Cares will prove to our students that there are people in their community who want to see them succeed. Each time our students walk into their school building, they will be reminded that volunteers from their city and community came together with energy and compassion to make their school a more appealing place. It is extremely important for our students to see this type of partnership, to understand that their education is the concern of many. 

We are creating a new dynamic at Holden which encompasses rigor and high expectations. The work that Chicago Cares will be doing, with the help of the school faculty and families, will be a crucial part of an overall new beginning. This transformation of the school would not be possible without the generosity of those involved in Chicago Cares and for that, we at Charles Holden School are deeply grateful.

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