WFU students paint desks to give to at-risk elementary school students

By Cheryl Walker
March 23, 2006

More than 30 student groups will take part in the third annual desk-painting event at Wake Forest University April 3 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The colorful, custom-decorated desks will go to at-risk students at Old Town Elementary School.

The service project, called D.E.S.K or Discovering Education through Student Knowledge, was started in 2003 by two Wake Forest students who recognized the need for students they were tutoring to have better spaces at home to do schoolwork.

D.E.S.K. is co-chaired this year by Wake Forest seniors Parissa Jahromi and Innes Gamble. Each desk will be painted by a team of four or five Wake Forest students with the help of an Old Town student. The team will decorate the desk based on the child's interests. Student organizations ranging from fraternities and sororities to the women's basketball team and the gospel choir will participate.

Last year's winning desk, given to an 8-year-old student, was painted to look like the American flag by members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.

The outdoor event will include music, games, prizes and an appearance by the Demon Deacon.

"Our idea is that every child needs a workspace in which to do their homework," Jahromi said. "It is our belief that if children have their own desk space and school supplies in their homes, they can develop good study habits."

Many of the second-hand desks for the project came from community organizations.

"We are delighted by the support we have received from the community," Gamble said. "Organizations such as the Rescue Mission, Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity have been generous suppliers of desks."

Old Town Elementary faculty and administrators identified children who could benefit from the program. The Wake Forest students will deliver the desks to the elementary school students' homes. In addition to desks, the Wake Forest students will provide chairs and school supplies to the Old Town students.