LOS ANGELES, Calif., (April 26, 2014) – Hundreds of volunteers from the Santa Monica Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, along with members of the surrounding community, pitched in to clean up Venice High School, whose campus has suffered from insufficient custodial staffing.
Located in Los Angeles Westside, Venice High School represents the diversity and complexity of its surrounding community with a student body of 2200 students and 200 teachers. With dozens of classrooms and sprawling grassy areas, keeping its hallways and grounds clean continues to be a challenge for its custodial staff, a staff that has been reduced from 20 to four due to budget cuts in 2014. According to Alex Ornelas, a senior at Venice High School, students have started to take notice of the declining maintenance:
“It’s definitely not as clean as it used to be,” Ornelas said, joining with a few friends to work off detention in exchange for helping clean the school. “There’s garbage everywhere and it just stays dirty. It’s hard to be excited to go to class when you’re surrounded by trash.”
Heeding the call for help, more than 400 volunteers spent the morning painting stairs, raking up leaves and debris, scrubbing down walls, and collecting trash. They focused on areas where generally custodians have a difficult time getting to, including clearing out bushes and weeds. According to the President of the Santa Monica Stake, Levi Heath, so many members of the Church participated in the clean up effort because of the school’s meaning to them and their families.
“Venice High School is a school that services the youth in our church,” said Heath. “Many of our members have attended here and many will yet attend here. We’re proud to do our part in beautifying the area and we welcome these opportunities to work shoulder to shoulder with our friends and neighbors to strengthen our community.”
While Principal Dr. Elsa Mendoza is quick to point out that the custodial staff does the best job that they can to make sure the school stays clean, she agrees that the help today will make a significant difference in showing the students the importance of doing their part to keep it that way.
“We are so grateful to everyone that came out today to bring help to our school. Hopefully our students can see how hard it is to keep this campus clean and be more mindful of how they can be part of the solution instead of the problem.”
The Santa Monica Stake organized the Venice High School service project as part of a statewide day of service in which more than 75,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints participated in beautifying their communities.
About Venice High School
Venice High School, originally known as Venice Union Polytechnic High School, was first established in 1911 in the old lagoon bathhouse at Second and Windward Streets in Venice, California. In 1913, voters approved the purchase of 29 acres of land where the current campus now resides. The new campus was completed in 1915, but those buildings were largely destroyed in the Long Beach earthquake of 1933. Construction of the existing earthquake resistant buildings was completed in 1935 using Works Progress Administration (WPA) funding.
About the Santa Monica Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The Santa Monica Stake is a collection of eight congregations of the Church, spanning Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, Santa Monica, Venice, Mar Vista, Palms and Culver City, and has approximately 3,000 members. The Stake is lead by President Levi W. Heath.