On October 25, 2013 — the day before National Make a Difference Day – all 505 students from The Hill School plus faculty members and staff joined forces with Pottstown, Pa. volunteers to put a 700-volunteer clean-up crew on the streets of Hill’s shared community.
This “Pottstown CARES” (Community, Awareness, Responsibility, Empowerment, and Sustainability) endeavor combined manpower from The Hill School, the Borough of Pottstown, and Pottstown School District. Last spring Borough Manager Mark Flanders, Pottstown Superintendent Jeff Sparagana, and Hill Headmaster Zachary Lehman envisioned a collaborative project to “spruce up” the core of Pottstown and boost community pride. One result was the recent effort that involved picking up trash, pulling weeds, and installing a park bench and composting bins in a community garden, courtesy of Hill woodworking students.
Students and faculty shared stories of neighbors who lent a hand, such as the U.S. military veteran who thanked students for their service, and another resident who served workers hot chocolate.
“Trying to organize seven to 70 people is difficult enough, so it was amazing to see 700 people working together successfully,” said Matt Gettings, Hill mathematics instructor.
Heather Gelting, Hill’s human resource director, said the students “demonstrated genuine care for the community.”
“They picked cigarette butts out of gutters with a smile on their faces, and we received honks, ‘thank yous,’ and many thumbs up from passersby,” Gelting said.
“These students amaze me with how much kindness they show to one another,” said Casey Oliver, mathematics instructor.
“We demonstrated that Hill cares deeply about our neighborhood and that, when we all work together, we can have a positive impact,” said Headmaster Lehman. “CARES is just the beginning of a concerted effort by The Hill to help drive improvements in Pottstown.”