Volunteers put a little shine to the campus of Moore-Mickens Education & Vocational Center in Dade City.
They swept the parking lot, raked and bagged leaves, pruned the greenery and cut the lawn.
Inside, they cleaned up the kitchen and refrigerators, and wiped down walls.
Future projects include interior painting and a pressure washing for the exterior of the school’s buildings.
For now, the cleanup efforts were done just in time for summer activities.
“It looks so much better,” said Marilyn Hunter, president of the Moore-Mickens Education & Vocational Center, at 38301 Martin Luther King Blvd., in Dade City.
Many of the volunteers who showed up for work duty on May 26 are former students who wanted to give back.
Some of those who turned out also serve on the school’s advisory board or its junior board.
“This is a legacy,” said Warren “Snapper” Godbolt, a director on the advisory board and a 1968 graduate of the school. “It’s been a life saver in a lot of ways to a lot of people. The teachers here made a lot of difference in our lives. They were like second parents for us.”
Moore-Mickens is a historical landmark in Dade City as the first public school for blacks in Pasco County. It began as Moore Academy, but later operated under the Moore and Mickens’ names as elementary, middle and high schools, and lastly as the education center.
The school’s name honors its founding educators, Rev. Junias D. Moore and Odell Kingston Mickens.
Pasco County Schools closed Moore-Mickens in 2016, citing the expenses of repairs and upkeep.
Nearly a year ago, a coalition of community activists accepted the keys to Moore-Mickens from the Pasco County school board. There is a 30-year lease, at a cost of $10 a year.
School administrators and its board of directors are revitalizing Moore-Mickens as a learning center and social hub for the community.
“We want this to be a new beginning,” said Godbolt. “The first priority is education. If you can save anyone’s child, you’ve done something.”
In recent months, the school has begun afterschool tutoring and General Equivalency Diploma classes. This summer, the school is partnering with a Gainesville-based nonprofit, Mega Social Enterprise Inc., to offer job training skills to youth, ages 14 to 21.
Although some students have signed up, additional applications are being accepted, Hunter said. The program will provide stipends during training, and will seek to find hands-on work opportunities in the community.
Sprucing up the campus was a kickoff to a busy summer.
Quantabia Maner is in charge of the Community Enrichment Committee for the school and helped organize the cleanup day.
Pam Roberts, a junior board member, attended sixth grade at the school. She was in charge of lunch for the volunteers – hot dogs, chips and drinks.
“It was a great experience for me,” she said of her brief time at Moore-Mickens. “I have great memories.”
Arthur Whitehead, 80, was an eager volunteer. He was born in Tampa but lived most of his life in Dade City. He pushed a broom to sweep up leaves and dirt from the parking lot.
“I’ve lived here longer than Tampa, and I wanted to help out,” he said.
Mack Brockington operates Soul Refreshing Outreach in Zephyrhills. He wants to expand services and open a food pantry at Moore-Mickens. “We’re trying to move in this direction (to Dade City),” he said.
A friend and fellow church member, Guy Wright, brought a ride-on mower to clip the lawn, especially the tall grass between classroom buildings.
Ed Reed is a custodian for Pasco County Schools. He went to elementary school at Moore-Mickens. His father, Freddie Reed, worked on the construction of Moore-Mickens’ buildings.
And, Ed Reed’s wife, Ella, was a majorette and student there.
“I’m glad I’m part of it,” said Reed, who pruned palms from planters, and in the landscaping outside the buildings.
Baron Bloodsworth attended middle school in the late 1990s. He grabbed a rake and went to work. “It made an impact on the community,” he said. “Anything I can do to help.”
Edele Graham had appointments that day but made time to give an hour or so to the cleanup. She attended middle school. “I just want to see it stay and thrive,” she said.
For information on Moore-Mickens or the Mega Social Enterprise summer youth program, call Marilyn Hunter at (352) 807-5691 or Saundra Coward at (352) 467-0313.
Published June 13, 2018