GREENSBORO-Most students spend First Day of Classes Eve getting settled into campus, purchasing text books, putting the finishing touches on their dorm rooms and catching up with friends. But the North Carolina A&T swimming team spent their time in the community, volunteering their time at a local school.
The swimming team, which features 17 student-athletes on the roster this season, spent a few hours at Aycock Middle School on Cypress Street. Mere minutes from campus, the Aggies helped to set up Room 118, where three classes of eighth graders will study language arts.
The Aggies look to be heavily involved in community service activities this year, volunteering as a team at least once a month this school year. Participating in community service is an important activity for the swimming team for a number of reasons.
"It's important because it builds our character and our leadership skills throughout the community. It's always good to give back," said junior Sarah Simmons, a long distance freestyle swimmer.
Room 118 belongs to Gia Wright, a former A&T swimmer who holds the program records for all of the breaststroke events and who is also starting her fourth season this fall as the swimming team's assistant coach. Wright knows the value of community service from both her experience as an A&T student-athlete and a coach.
"I feel with a lot of athletes in general, all they really know is their sport. They spend so many hours practicing and being involved in their sport, they don't often get the chance to go out and interact with people outside of their sport or outside of their schooling," Wright said. "I think [participating in community service] makes them more diverse in their experiences."
While the Aggies wrote out poster cards for a Word Wall and classroom rules, others cleaned the white boards, arranged the desks and cut out paper and borders for bulletin boards. Some of the Aggies organized the textbooks, leaving one at each desk, and also arranged Wright's bookshelves. Wright said it would have taken her about 10 hours to do what the ladies did in two.
Aycock Middle School Principal Keisha McMillan stopped by to say hello to the team and wish them luck in the 2012-13 season while they were working.
The Aggies will be represented year-round in the room. Wright requested the room colors be Blue and Gold. She uses the school's blue, gold and white to help inspire dreams of college success in her students, who hope to one day have a first day of class on a college campus.