FORT MEADE, Md. (NNS) -- Approximately 25 Sailors from the Navy Information Operations Command (NIOC) Maryland took part in a beautification project for the Maritime Industries Academy High School in Baltimore March 23.
The project included painting the school's gymnasium to match their school colors and cleaning and reorganizing three of the school's largest storage closets.
"This has not always been Maritime Industries Academy High School," said Dorian Barnes, principal for the high school. "It has been five or six different schools, and now it is ours. And we are struggling a bit with its identity. Sorting through decades of old equipment and repainting the gym to match our school colors is going to give our students some much needed ownership."
Maritime Industries Academy is one of Baltimore's themed high schools. Its curriculum is based mostly on the maritime industries and ordinary skills and jobs with an added water component. They also have an active Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps program.
"This school teaches honor, courage and commitment along with leadership and development," said Barnes. "Our goal is to get our students both college and career ready."
Although the project only took about four hours to complete, it will leave a lasting impression on the students who now have a gymnasium painted to match their school colors.
"Everything about this building is original," said Garfield Thomson, the athletic coach for MIA. "This update will boost morale. It will also show the students that we follow through when we say we are going to do something. Sometimes they lose faith in promises that are made and broken. If we show them that we are invested, maybe they will become more invested."
This is only the first in a long line of volunteer opportunities that will allow NIOC Sailors to get involved with the students from MIA.
"We plan to involve MIA in NIOC's Personal Excellence Partnership program," said Yeoman 2nd Class Jade Fitzwater. "The school is going to identify their needs, and then we will work out a plan to support. The first thing we will work toward is a mentorship program. It is meant for us to be involved with this school since so much of what they teach here is rooted heavily in what we learn in the Navy."
The program was organized by Cryptologic Technician (Collection) 3rd Class Danielle Roberts. Roberts runs NIOC's Project Good Neighbor program, and when she was told that without NIOC's help the MIA project would be dropped, she knew she had to do something.
"I love to volunteer," said Roberts. "It's my passion. I love looking around at a completed project and knowing I had something to do with that. This school has more than 400 students, and middle school students also use this gym. That is a lot of people impacted by the efforts of only a few. That is why I love volunteering. I prove over and over again that one person really can make a difference."
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