Garyville refinery shows commitment to education
From honoring students and dishing up pastalaya to hosting math-related events, Marathon Petroleum Corporation's (MPC’s) Garyville, Louisiana, refinery continually demonstrates community commitment. Following are some ways the refinery and employee volunteers have supported education-related initiatives in recent months.
A well-educated, highly skilled workforce is vital to MPC’s continuing success, and area students represent our future.
The Garyville refinery and the River Region Chamber of Commerce rounded up some top students to show area students that hard work pays off. More than 300 fifth- through eighth-graders, representing eight schools in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana, took part in the festivities at the historic San Francisco Plantation in Garyville.
Over the course of the day, students feasted on nachos and hot dogs; had their faces painted; meandered over to a photo station for a selfie; and enjoyed the beauty and history of the plantation itself.
“The Honor Roll Roundup and Education Lunch is a collaboration between the refinery and the school district aimed at celebrating the academic achievements of local elementary and middle-school students who’ve made the Honor Roll,” notes Keith Hightower, Garyville refinery human resources manager. “This was the first year for the combined program, which represents the school’s former Honor Roll Roundup and the refinery’s Education Lunch. Combined, they create an even more special and fun event, and gave us an opportunity to celebrate and applaud the students’ efforts.”
Making Math Fun
For some students, math is a chore. They don’t understand it and can’t imagine how math applies to real-world situations. MPC’s Garyville, Louisiana, refinery is doing their part to change all that, however.
“We recently hosted a Family Math Night at the Garyville/Mt. Airy Math and Science Magnet School, which is one of four schools we’ve adopted,” notes Garyville Community Relations Representative Aspen Murphy. “The event gave students an opportunity to demonstrate their math skills and parents a chance to see what their children have learned. It also gave students, parents and teachers a way to connect – and to learn math is fun.”
Five refinery volunteers took part, and about 300 students attended. Highlights of the two-hour event include hands-on displays, games and competitions/challenges. Math Night is just one of several ways the refinery demonstrates commitment to education.
“We annually donate $15,000 to each of our adopted schools, and volunteers for a host of education-related initiatives,” notes Garyville General Manager Tracy Case. “A well-educated, highly skilled workforce is vital to MPC’s continuing success, and area students represent our future.”
Backpacks Via Pastalaya
About 25 years ago, Garyville Maintenance Foreman Jeff McClung began learning to cook for crowds from then co-worker Poncho Roussel. He now cooks for up to 60 events a year in Louisiana’s St. John and St. James parishes, benefiting people of all ages and from all walks of life.
One such event recently raised nearly $3,000 for the Garyville refinery’s annual Backpack Drive, an amount then matched by the company.
“The funds are used to purchase school supplies for underprivileged children,” explains McClung. “Employees buy the supplies and then pack and deliver them for distribution.”
This particular fundraiser featured a specialty called pastalaya. “It’s like jambalaya, but instead of rice, you use spaghetti,” McClung explains. “It also includes pork, smoked sausage, a little chicken, vegetables, brown gravy and rotelle,” he adds. “When it’s all boiling and tasting good, we add spaghetti, and then serve it with a salad, bread and a drink for $8 a meal. We showed up at 5:30 a.m. to cook, and it was ready by 10 a.m.”
Although now retired, Roussel helped McClung prepare this year’s lunch, joined by other refinery volunteers, co-ops and interns.
“Events like these show we’re good neighbors,” adds McClung. “They’re good for MPC and good for the community.”