The Miller Grove Middle School media center underwent renovations with help from an outstanding community partner, a dedicated media specialist, and a talented former student. The school was selected as one of six 2024 Georgia United Credit Union Foundation School Crashers program recipients.

This program is part of the foundation’s significant community service efforts, allowing schools across Georgia to apply for a facility makeover. The upgrades to Miller Grove Middle School’s media center included new flooring, a fresh coat of paint, and new furniture.

The application process includes submitting a photograph and writing a 250-word essay explaining why the applicant’s school should receive a makeover. All told, the foundation received 224 applications. One of the applicants was Ms. Crystal Cooper, the media specialist at Miller Grove Middle, along with her son Khalil Siddeeq, who attended the school.

Khalil, who graduated from DeKalb Early College Academy in 2020, is now a University of Southern California student. He said his mom encouraged him to write the 250-word essay for the application.

“I wrote the essay last year when we applied. We got pretty far into the application process but didn’t get it,” said Khalil. “I wanted to try again, and I thought about the old essay that I wrote and wondered how I could make it better. I wrote a new essay, and we won.”

Miller Grove Middle Principal Sharon Evans couldn’t be more grateful to the Georgia United Credit Union Foundation, Ms. Cooper, and Khalil.

“I’m so glad we’re part of the six schools that were accepted into this program,” Principal Evans said. “Everyone has been wonderful during this process, and we’re excited to see the final results. I’m excited.”

Debbie Smith, CEO of Georgia United Credit Union, said the company and foundation look forward to serving its communities and strengthening the school systems through the School Crashers program.

“The Georgia United Foundation, credit union team members, generous donors, community partners, and volunteers make this a fun community service event, where we provide inspiring learning spaces for the students, faculty, and staff,” said Smith. “By the end of the summer, we anticipate that School Crashers improvements will have impacted a total of 76 schools with improvement estimates at over $2.5 million.”

It is no surprise that Khalil’s essay stood out. He is a published author, and his first novel, “The Buried Laboratory,” was published while he was in high school. He is majoring in narrative studies and creative writing in college and hopes to become a writer for animated television shows. He said he loves libraries, especially the Miller Grove Middle Library.

“It has always been a nice little place, but it has kind of fallen into slight disrepair lately,” he said. “This is my way to give back to the school and school district. Hopefully, the next generation of students will be able to enjoy the library a little more.”