When West Side High School students were being bullied because of dirty clothes, Mr. Cook listened. When school starts September 4th, there will be a new facility in the building: a free laundromat. Principal of West Side High School and Program Director of Lights On, Akbar Cook has converted the football team’s old locker room into a laundromat, complete with five commercial washers and five commercial dryers. West Side purchased the new washing and drying machines through a $20,000 grant from the PSE&G Foundation. Support from the community has poured in from all around the country with donations of detergent, fabric softener and dryer sheets. Mr. Cook is hopeful that this program can serve as a blueprint for other schools with students facing a similar dilemma – changing the school’s culture, eliminating barriers to education, and washing away the vicious cycle of bullying.
The laundromat will be free and open to students after school hours with an adult staff member assigned to work with students in the adjacent room on STEM projects and explore academic interests while they wait for their laundry.
News stories covering the laundromat include: