GRANVILLE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Twelve teenagers from New York City are in Granville this weekend, painting a 120-year-old schoolhouse. The summer service project is through Publicolor, a nonprofit organization in the city, helping to combat high school dropout rates.
“I like knowing that people are going to drive past here and be like, ‘whoa who did that’?” said Raven Benjamin, who’s been doing projects with Publicolor for five years.
Publicolor engages youth with art and color, in an effort to curb high school dropout rates in underserved and marginalized New York City communities.
Projects like the one in Granville are meant to help teens develop new skillsets.
“It also prevents summer learning loss. I’ve been able to keep track of what I’ve learned in school, because I have to apply it to real life,” Benjamin explained.
The Granville project was organized by David Garvoille, a former teacher in the Bronx who now works at Hicks Orchard, where the schoolhouse is located.
“When I came up in 2006 to the farm, I knew that this would be a great place for kids to come up and have some time in the country, and there’s so much work to do on a farm,” he said.
Garvoille was also with Publicolor for several years and has been eager to get teenagers from the city to come up to Washington County.
“What is like? Oh, I get kind of emotional. I feel like if anyone is really nice to me right now I’m going to lose it, because it’s such a group effort,” he explained.
Through his teaching and the Bronx and past work with Publicolor, he’s seen firsthand the impact the organization can have.
“I’ve seen kids like Vlad, one of the kids that I knew when he was in high school, he’s gone on to finish his bachelors degree and also he’s going to law school now. I could give 20 other kids names of kids that I’ve seen that are now comfortably in their careers,” Garvoille says.
Once the project is complete, the goal is to turn the schoolhouse into a space for school groups to stop at after visiting the orchard.
“Now we’ll have a spot for them to also extend that learning into what was early American education like,” said Garvoille.
Garvoille hopes this project can serve as a pilot program, with downstate youth coming back north each year to complete similar projects.
The teens making the trip to Washington County also got an opportunity to tour the Slate Valley Museum, see local farms and pick blueberries at the orchard.