Johnson Day bridges community
Students braved the inclement weather to participate in Johnson Day last April. The event will return Oct. 15.
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Johnson Day, which the Colby Volunteer Center (CVC) revived last spring after a 50-year hiatus, brought together members of the College community as students and Physical Plant Department (PPD) staff worked together to beautify campus. Inspired by the success of last April’s event, the CVC will hold another Johnson Day on Saturday, Oct. 15.
As noted in an Echo article published on April 5, 2011, “Johnson Day derives its name from former College President Franklin Winslow Johnson, who served the College from 1929 to 1942. Johnson oversaw the transplantation of campus to its current location on Mayflower Hill, which began during his presidency. After retiring as president, Johnson donated over $100,000 to the College, an amount that exceeded his salary during his time as school president. Johnson is the embodiment of what Johnson Day represents: giving back to the place from which he and so many others have benefited.”
Last year, 100 students participated in Johnson Day. “It was just really exciting to see Colby students next to PPD staff,” CVC Director Dana Roberts ’12 said. When the event took place on April 1, PPD staff had already been on campus shoveling snow since before dawn. “Some of them even stayed past their shift to keep hanging out with the kids,” she said, explaining that the event serves to forge connections among members of the College community. “One of our biggest goals this year is collaboration and building communities, and that doesn’t just mean the Waterville community. For us that means bridging the student body and the faculty, bridging students to PPD staff.”
Johnson Day encourages students to appreciate the effort PPD workers invest in the College community. “It’s a lot of work to keep this place looking nice,” Roberts said. “[PPD workers] care so much about making this place a beautiful place.”
Working in groups that consist of one PPD staff member and about 10 students, Johnson Day volunteers will complete a number of projects, some of which the CVC had originally planned for last spring’s event before the inclement weather hit. Activities will include raking leaves, planting tulips, painting benches and beautifying bench areas around campus and more, Roberts said. Students and their PPD leaders will then eat lunch together and have the opportunity to attend the home football game.
Roberts hopes that in addition to beautifying campus, students will “leave having a better sense of who PPD really is and what their goals are, and how students can reflect upon their actions on campus and how they affect other people’s lives and affect our community.”
She believes participating in Johnson Day may even discourage students from committing dorm damage on campus. “If you can have kids respect PPD during the day, you can have them respect PPD at night,” Roberts said.
It is likely that from now on, Johnson Day will take place in the fall rather than the spring, given that the April event occurred close to Colby Cares Day, Roberts said. The CVC staff encourages students who are interested in participating in Johnson Day to complete the online sign up sheet, available on the CVC website, www.colby.edu/cvc. “Colby really stepped up to the plate last year, and that’s what I hope they do this year,” Roberts said.