WFU students hope decorative desks will inspire learning

Wake Forest students paint desks for local elementary school students at the annual volunteer service project DESK, on Poteat Field on Wednesday, April 10, 2019.

If children feel comfortable when they’re sitting at their desks working, whether in the classroom or at home, chances are they’ll be more productive.

And Wake Forest students hope the desks they’re decorating from 3-6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 21, will be just the spark some local elementary school students need.

It’s all part of Wake’s annual Discovering Education through Student Knowledge, or D.E.S.K. program, started by two students who identified a lack of workspace in the homes of children they were tutoring in partnership with Old Town Elementary School.

This marks the 22nd year Wake Forest has partnered with Old Town to create desks for students. Traditionally, Wake students go to the school to meet the students and design their desks. Then, the children come to campus for several hours of fun, including desk painting, eating cotton candy and popcorn, and playing in a bounce house.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, elementary students will not visit campus this year. Instead, they were asked to submit their desk designs virtually to serve as blueprints for the Wake students. Also new this year, Wake Forest is partnering with other elementary schools in addition to Old Town.

“We received word from schools across the district that they, too, had a need for supporting at-home learning,” said Brad Shugoll, associate director, leadership and service in the Office of Civic and Community Engagement (OCCE.) “We’re delighted to provide desks for children at other Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.”

Caroline Welch ('21)

Caroline Welch (’21)

About 40 desks will be provided this year.

Caroline Welch, a senior health and exercise science major from Winston-Salem, can’t wait to start painting desks next week. She’s been involved with the D.E.S.K. program since her freshman year and this year is senior director of the event.

“I think it’s really important for us as college students, especially at Wake, to come together toward a goal that benefits the community,” said Welch.

About 150 Wake Forest students will decorate desks on Poteat Field while wearing masks and observing social distancing protocols, including a maximum of 100 students on Poteat Field at any given time. Wake students will deliver the desks to the children — either at their schools or their homes.

“We want these desks to give the students a safe space where they can feel special and valued and loved, one that will make them enjoy learning,” said Welch.

Danielle Parker Moore

Danielle Parker Moore

Danielle Parker Moore, an assistant professor of education and executive director of The Wake Forest Freedom School, said the D.E.S.K. program can go a long way toward increasing students’ desire to learn.

“If kids have a dedicated workspace that is theirs, is enjoyable and is pretty, they’ll be more inclined to want to work and learn in that space,” Parker Moore said. “Especially now when many families are struggling to make remote learning work effectively in their homes, these desks are very timely and will have a great impact.”

To interview Welch, Shugoll or Parker Moore, or for photos or video footage, please contact

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