MIAMI — Clouds were in the sky but inside Miami Norland Senior High School was all sunshine, chatter and coffee, lots and lots of coffee courtesy of Starbucks Coffee Company.
More than 150 volunteers, comprised of Starbucks’ employees and their families and friends from stores Naples to Homestead gathered at the school to paint murals, create landscaping and build benches Saturday, April 28.
“I think it’s good, finally something’s happening at Norland,” said 11th grader Ashley Osbourne. “I can’t wait to see how it comes out.”
Opened in 1958, Norland Senior High School is often cited by community leaders as one of the most dilapidated schools in the county, with rallies held in the past to draw attention to the need for a new building.
“What we are doing here today is all about the morale of the students,” said Artie Dohler, Broward County district manager and community relations leader for Florida at Starbucks. “If it helps the students feel better about coming to school because they have a solid place to come during lunch and it helps them want to come to school and stay here and do more in the community.”
The effort was a joint venture with City Year Miami and coordinated as part of Starbucks’ Global Month of Service.
“Today we hope to bring some positive energy and atmosphere to the school,” said Christina Pesavento, City Year staff member.
City Year is a national nonprofit organization, with branches in 22 major cities across the country, whose mission is to lower the high school dropout rate. This is the organization’s first year at Norland High School, though they are involved with 12 other schools throughout Miami-Dade County.
“What we do is take young adults 18-24 years old and put them in teams at schools,” says Pesavento. “They are there before the students arrive so they can greet students, and get them having a positive attitude for when they go in the classroom.
Their efforts appear to be working, as 82 percent of the senior class is expected to graduate this year.
“It’s really a program that promotes students staying in school, coming to school and graduating and feeling good about the school,” said Olivia Bernal, assistant principal at Norland. “They are a great group of young adults, the kids really like being with and working with them.”
At Saturday’s event, outside in the courtyard, workers clad in green Starbuck’s Community Service tees planted flowers and built and painted picnic benches in maroon and gray, the school colors.
Inside the cafeteria, two other groups were hard at work painting murals of the Viking mascot on the walls and inspirational messages on large boards to be hung around the cafeteria.
“I think it’s a great motivating tool and nice for the community to get involved with our school,” said Bernal. “It just brings another level to our student culture, we are in a very old building and anything that we do to beautify the school brings that sense of pride to the students”
City Year staff members and students worked for three weeks before the event to prep the walls for the murals by drawing outlines on the walls.
“I feel like this project is going to change the overall mood” said Robert P., City Year staff member. “The kids are going to see that City Year really cares about the school.”
Photo: ALEX SALAS PHOTO
MORALE BUILDING: Volunteers landscaped the perimeter, painted murals on the walls of the cafeteria and assembled benches for the courtyard at Miami Norland Senior High School in a joint venture with City Year Miami and Starbucks’ Global Month of Service.