[This post has been updated]
Outside Marshall Elementary School on Fort Lincoln Drive NE, a cheer goes up as a pair of garden tillers finally kick in after a couple of false starts.
Steering one of the tillers is Matt Hendricks, fourth line winger for the Washington Capitals. The team has adopted the school for the year and signed up more than 100 people to paint murals, plant a garden and build a robotics table as part of the D.C. Public Schools annual Beautification Day.
This year, a record 4,100-plus volunteers fanned out to spruce up all 105 schools in time for the start of the academic year on Monday, officials said. The volunteers include members from the D.C. United, the National Guard and the Washington Capitals.
The program began in 2005 to help connect schools with volunteers from the community, who garden, clean up around schools, paint and do other jobs to prepare fro opening day.
At Marshall, Hendricks was joined by John Marshall, a son of the school’s namesake, former Supreme Court justice and civil rights legend Thurgood Marshall. Marshall, who lives in Prince William County, is a lifelong hockey fan, as was his late father.
“When I have tell something about my dad that is not in the history books, it’s that he was a big hockey fan,” Marshall said.
Incoming principal Sharon Wells said she teared up when she heard the former justice’s son would be volunteering. The projects the volunteers are working on would likely have taken much longer and cost more to complete without outside help, Wells said. She’s grateful the Caps agreed to adopt Marshall this school year. She likened Elizabeth Wodatch, community outreach coordinator for the Capitals, to Glinda, the good witch from the Wizard of Oz.
“I feel like I’ve been sprinkled with fairy dust,” she said of the partnership.