From 1952 to 1964 Colby students observed Johnson Day, named after Colby President Franklin Johnson, each spring by raking, cleaning up campus, and planting trees. This year Richard Schwartz ’11, in conjunction with the Colby Volunteer Center, is intent on reviving the tradition, hoping to strengthen the sense of community on campus through a day of community service.

On Saturday, April 2, student volunteers will gather in Pulver Pavilion to form into teams, each led by a Physical Plant Department employee with expertise in the assigned project. The plan is for 10 teams to head out to tackle projects like raking up sand along walks and roadways, cleaning flower beds and perhaps doing some planting, and other campus beautification.  

Schwartz said he’s aiming for 100 students to join the three-hour volunteer effort, after which the group will reunite for lunch in Dana. Besides tidying up the campus for spring, Schwartz hopes to engender a sense respect for the Physical Plant Department workers and to give students “a sense of all that it takes to keep Colby’s campus looking great.”  

After helping to resurrect the tradition of Winter Carnival over the last three years, Schwartz said he asked the question, “What if we could do something on campus in the spring?” He sees the winter and spring events as “similar opportunities to take on an old tradition and bring it back to bring students together.” Johnson Day will be in addition to Colby Cares Day, in which teams of students volunteer for nonprofits and civic initiatives off campus, he said.  

Schwartz was inspired in part by a photo feature in Life magazine showing Colby students on Johnson Day in 1955. “It’s neat to see all these students … working to give back,” said the leader of the Johnson Day revival who, incidentally, lives in Johnson residence hall.  

Students can sign up on Facebook.