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FREDERICKSBURG -- A new laundry program at Fredericksburg Elementary School is helping to relieve the burden on families that struggle to consistently provide clean clothes for their children.
Principal Christa Frantz noticed a few students coming to school wearing the same clothes a couple of days in a row. She also read a study that said having clean clothes could help improve a student's attendance.
She first looked at a program sponsored by Maytag but decided to approach Fredericksburg's parent-teacher organization (PTO) for help getting a washer and dryer sooner. The PTO approved the purchase and helped to buy the Roper appliances.
"I had looked at a program through Maytag, but it was pretty competitive and I didn't want to wait. I saw the need and wanted to address it now," Frantz said.
Intervention specialist Rachel Speelman will oversee the program, but she has appointed fifth-grade student Christian Galvins as the laundry manager. Galvins was the obvious choice for the position -- his family owns the Village Laundromat & Car Wash in Fredericksburg.
"He's perfect and tidy and clean. It's the perfect opportunity for him to lead and really be in charge of something," said Speelman, who is confident Galvins could one day take over the family business.
Galvins' role also plays into the school's Leader in Me program, which tries to identify opportunities for all students to be leaders.
"The whole point of Leader in Me is to raise highly effective students, whatever that looks like for them, to someday be able to have a leadership role," Frantz said.
The school has identified one family with three children to pilot the program, and Frantz hopes to add more families once they get into a routine. The students will receive a laundry bag to take home, pile in their clothes and bring back the next day for Galvins to wash, dry and fold.
Galvins spends most of his day with Speelman and should be able to take care of the laundry duties in between his reading group and other studies. If he can't get to the wash, he will assign one of his classmates to take care of it.
"We're helping out our low-income families who need it, but it's also giving some of my students the chance to be responsible and be leaders," the intervention teacher said.
Speelman will also tie the laundry into her students' academic work -- graphing how much laundry is coming in, measuring the right amount of soap and being responsible for returning the laundry back to the right people.
Frantz plans to extend the program to Holmesville Elementary, where she also serves as the principal. The school already has a washer and dryer used by the multiple-handicapped students, and the Holmesville PTO has agreed to replace those appliances when they break down.
"We don't know how long they're going to last and I didn't want to start something that didn't have longevity," Frantz said.
Reporter Emily Morgan can be reached at 330-287-1632 or firstname.lastname@example.org.