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At Woodbridge School, good deeds are great lessons

Founder’s Day is service lesson for Woodbridge Woodchucks
By: Nathan Donato-Weinstein The Press-Tribune
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It’s the kind of thing that usually takes place after school hours are over. But at Woodbridge School on Wednesday morning, class moved into the multipurpose room so students could have a front-row seat for an important lesson: giving back. Retirees, former staff members, service group members and others gathered there for the school’s annual Founder’s Day, a celebration of the volunteers and supporters who do everything from make copies to help children with reading and everything in between. And so, flanked by members of the kindergarten- through third-grade school’s student body, the volunteers received as payment merely two little words: Thank you. Which, of course, was just fine with them. “We invite the students in for the program because we want them to understand the concept of giving back to the community and service to our school,” said Principal Dave Phillips. “We want to acknowledge them and say ‘Thank you.’” Founder’s Day is a tradition that goes back at least to the start of the school’s parent teacher association in 1950, but could stretch back even further, Phillips said. Built in 1935, Woodbridge is the oldest school within the Roseville City School District still in operation. A few years ago, Phillips decided to move the celebration from its after-school timeslot into the school day; though about an hour of classroom time is lost, the message of appreciation is well worth it, he said. It was on full display Wednesday, as teachers gave recognition to a bevy of supporters. Students also showed their gratitude with spirited performances by the school choir, including one of “You Raise Me Up.” There was Rebecca Jeffries, a Sierra Gardens Elementary parent who leads a watercolor enrichment program at Woodbridge; Herb Kristal, a retiree who reads with third graders and sends a substitute volunteer on the rare occasions he can’t make it; and Steve Christensen, a local dentist who organizes a Rotary program that finds dental services for those who can’t pay – a major help at a school where 67 percent of students are on the state’s free and reduced lunch program. And that’s just to name a few. But the school reserved a special thank-you for one of its first graduates. La Veda Doyle, who attended in the mid-1930s, was honored for a $60,000 donation earlier this year earmarked for a new kindergarten playground. The donation came from a trust named for her late husband, Thomas E. Doyle, part of the family that led the Roseville Telephone Co. (now SureWest Communications) for three generations. On Wednesday, with the brightly-colored playground fully constructed nearby, Doyle made another announcement: a second contribution to build another playground for the school’s other three grades. “I was so excited starting at school because it was a brand new school,” she told students, staff and volunteers. “My family lived two streets over on Pleasant Street. And through the years I never forgot about Woodbridge School. It always had a place in my heart.” After the announcement, students made their way out to the playground for its official dedication – though, as they easily made their way over the red and yellow play surfaces, it appeared as if they were already well acquainted.