SALT LAKE CITY — Nine-year-old Millie Lucas knew exactly how she hopes West High students feel when they see the freshly painted benches and other improvements volunteers made to the school Saturday.
"Happy," the young girl splattered with red paint said after a morning of scraping and painting alongside her brother Daniel, and sisters Isabel and Clara, as part of Fidelity Investments' annual "Transformation Day" at the high school.
Daniel Lucas, 14, said the efforts to spruce up the school that involved some 150 Fidelity employees, their families and college volunteers will "help students feel their school is not run down and help them have a positive working environment."
Their mother, Colli Lucas, a University of Utah education professor, said the morning's work will help West High students take pride in their school. But she said her children also benefit.
"You want your kids to learn how to serve, to do something that's not for themselves," said Lucas, whose husband, Nuno, is a Fidelity director of tax exempt planning and guidance.
Inside the school's athletic treatment room, Whitley Clemente put the finishing touches on a "Restore the Roar" sign in the school colors of black and red that fills much of a wall.
Clemente, a customer relationship advocate at Fidelity's nearby 400 West offices who just passed her licensing exams, said the company's volunteer efforts were part of the reason she wanted to work there.
"I actually really like volunteering," she said. "This is the place to be."
Across the sprawling school grounds, students and their parents crowded into a chemistry lab for a financial literacy workshop, learning the best ways to establish good credit and other lessons in money management.
Projects also included filling planters with flowers, painting other portions of the walls and building shelving. This is the fourth year Fidelity employees in Utah have volunteered at West High.
Ben Brown, the company's public affairs manager, said there's a lot of satisfaction in participating.
"It's the little things to me that are gratifying," Brown said, looking forward to seeing students sitting on freshly painted benches while enjoying the rejuvenated landscape. "You drive around your community and think, 'How did I show up?'"5 comments on this story
West High Principal Ford White was among the volunteers wearing a bright green Fidelity T-shirt Saturday.
"It's been a motivation for me," White said of the company's involvement with the school, encouraging him to raise $1 million from the community to assist struggling students at the state's oldest and most diverse high school.
For students, having volunteers give up a sunny Saturday morning to fix up their school let's them know "they're not forgotten," White said. The improvements will "be a huge 'wow' factor for them."