Volunteers add blue to brighten Riverview Elementary

The doors of Riverview Elementary School were wide open on Saturday morning as teachers, administrative personnel and other volunteers came together to celebrate "Make a Difference Day" by giving the school on Kessler Road a touch-up.

While many of the area's residents spent part of Oct. 27 preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy predicted for the next day, the group at Riverview painted the walls, doorways and stairs various shades of blue, hung signs and did a light cleaning from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"The building looks amazing," said Kevin Harrington, assistant principal, on the facility, which opened in 1957. "We're proud of our staff."

Music played from several doors as teachers dressed in "Staff" shirts worked in their building, which has more than 30 classrooms for students in pre-k through fifth grade.

Standing on a ladder to paint was Mary Maddox, the school's principal who also attended Riverview as a child.

"It's been here a while," Maddox said of the building."It's amazing when you change the environment... how it changes how you feel about yourself. "

As the school's name is Riverview, and its mascot is a dolphin, the color blue was selected to keep with a "water-based theme," Maddox said.

"Teachers painted...water scenes," Maddox said, showing a stairwell with fish."All the paint was donated by Home Depot."

A former kindergarten teacher at Riverview for 27 years and now a parent community coordinator, Bonnie Block is a well-loved presence in the school.

She was more than pleased that the school was getting a little color Saturday.

"We wanted the kids to be able to feel happy when they came through the door," Block said. "School is a safe haven. We want children to feel...'People care about me.' "

Greeting everyone at the door was Del. James Malone, who represents District 12A that includes the Lansdowne area.

"I think it is absolutely fabulous that...everybody is here on their day off," Malone said. "There are over 20 people here at 9:30 taking time from busy preparations for the mega storm."

Tom Judd helped his wife, Cynthia, paint her room.

Judd was also representing Walden University, which is among several private groups that have partnerships with Riverview.

The Shelter Group, Martin's Caterers, Charlestown retirement community and several members of the Lansdowne Business Association also have partnerships with the school, according to the school's website.

"It is a good fit," Judd said, of the partnership.

Among those providing support to Riverview and its staff was Sharonda Gregory, assistant to the assistant superintendent for the county school system.

"I absolutely love Riverview," Gregory said. "Mary is an outstanding principal.

"It was a perfect opportunity to come out," she said. "Riverview and the students and the staff are doing an outstanding job."

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