On Jan. 14, for the fourth consecutive year in a row, Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation Department (APER) was awarded the Jostens Community Service Award.
APER won the award for participating in the annual Cyclone Kickoff, where they spent an entire day cleaning and refurbishing three public middle schools in Oakland on September 10, 2006.
“It was a huge honor, partly because it was about our peers, other athletic administrators, determining who had made the biggest contribution towards their community,” said Themy Adachi, director of Athletics.
The award, which includes $1,000 towards the school’s scholarship fund, was given by the National Association of Division III Athletic Administrators (NADIIIAA) to one in over 400 colleges nationwide. The award competition has three different categories: a one-time project, an array of projects or activities and an ongoing project or activity. Mills was recognized for their one-time project, which took place at Havenscourt Middle School.
Over 100 student athletes, faculty, and staff were shuttled off to Havenscourt, which, originally one large middle school, had been recently split into three new schools – ROOTS International Academy, Havenscourt Middle School and Coliseum College Prep Academy.
Assistant Director of Athletics Catie Anderson was responsible for contacting the schools and meeting with the three principals to determine what type of work needed to be done.
“They just blew our minds with their excitement to creating these new schools. They were pointing out projects left and right,” said Anderson.
The projects were narrowed down to three specific areas – the hallways, the library, and the faculty and student lounges. “It wasn’t easy work,” laughed Themy. “It was physically hard labor and to do that for a whole day was amazing. It was a bonding experience for us all,” she added.
While there, the student athletes painted hallways, installed bulletin boards, patched holes, reorganized and refurbished the faculty and student lounge and cleaned and reorganized the entire school library.
At the end of the day, Anderson also collected evaluations from the student athletes. Many of the students found the experience rewarding, as well as a lot of fun.
“I feel like we did an awesome thing helping out this school. I’m glad we were able to work together and get to know each other while doing such a good thing for the community,” wrote junior Jessica Embree.
“This was an awesome experience!” wrote Sophomore Kayley Turkheimer. “I’m so glad everyone put so much time and energy into making the Cyclone Kickoff.”
While APER was recognized for this specific project, it isn’t the only community service the department has been involved in. APER has ongoing projects such as Swim-a-Mile, which is a fundraiser for women battling cancer. Fall Frenzy, a day-long event where soccer players work with Team Up for Youth to create a day of fun and games, is another event. The Mills College Tennis Program (MCTP), an after-school tennis program for inner city youth run by Mills Tennis coach Marc Weinstein, is now in its sixth year running and was also a previous winner of the Jostens Community Service award.
The staff at APER says they make community service a priority for themselves as well as for student athletes.
“For me, it’s about helping people understand that they can make a difference if we provide opportunities,” said Adachi. “Rather than being isolated on this Mills island, how else are our students gonna get involved in the real world?”
She added, “It’s hands-on experience. It’s not the same to talk about it. You have to do it.”