In not-so-usual attire of jeans and a red T-shirt, Amy Gutmann walked out onto the courtyard with blotches of paint on her shoes. The new Penn president had been painting lockers at Sayre Middle School as part of the Penn-West Philadelphia Community Partnership Celebration Day held on Saturday.
This community service project officially kicked off the series of events leading up to Gutmann's inauguration this Friday.
"There is no better way I could have imagined to kick off my inauguration" than the Community Partnership Celebration Day, Gutmann said.
The three main highlights of the celebration were free health screenings for community members, physical restorations to the school building and a community fair featuring various Penn-Sayre partnership programs.
The half-day celebration served to exemplify Gutmann's core beliefs in democratic societies and the responsibility that a university has toward the community.
"So let's roll up our sleeves and get back to work," Gutmann said, after putting down her paintbrush to address volunteers. "This is the first event [of the inauguration], but by no means the last."
Sayre Principal Joseph Starinieri said he was excited about the event and was especially pleased to gain the additional "Penn presence in the building."
Around 300 people attended, including volunteers, many of whom represented Greek chapters and other student organizations.
Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell was also present at the event and said that she was "looking forward to a new partnership with the new president." Blackwell, a former schoolteacher, is now serving her fourth term in the City Council.
The health fair featured different tables staffed by Penn Medical, Dental and Nursing students who took blood pressure, looked at teeth and gums, gave vision exams and taught basic first-aid procedures to members of the community.
At the dental screening table, Joan Gluch, director of community health at the School of Dental Medicine, commented on the importance of their efforts, citing that "oral health is essential to general health."
After the third- and fourth-year Dental students were finished looking inside the clients' mouths, Gluch followed up with each person about different service providers around the community.
The PennSmiles Dental Van was also present that day to give tours of the elaborate equipment inside. Staffed entirely by Dental students, the PennSmiles van is a complete dental office on wheels that goes around every day to local schools to provide free dental service for students.
The Sayre school building itself also got a facelift. Volunteers painted hallways, lockers and exterior murals, planted trees in the garden and built new sheds and picnic tables.
Sayre 10th-grader Keith Stinnette said he was excited about the new developments in his school. "They're trying to make [the school] look more like a high school," he said.
Further collaborations between Sayre and the University, according to Starinieri, include a free health clinic, a health tip hotline and a nutrition information program. All three are slated to be launched in the near future.
Sayre Middle School, located at 58th and Walnut streets, has a total enrollment of 1,151 students, 85 percent of whom come from low-income backgrounds.Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.