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The Student News Site of Altoona Area High School

Mountain Echo

The Student News Site of Altoona Area High School

Mountain Echo

DeShong to run her last Toona Tune Up

Gracie Gioiosa
Students signed up for Toona Tune Up will participate rain or shine in order to clean up the city.

On May 28, roughly 250 juniors and seniors will embark across Altoona with 31 teachers to clean up Altoona. This annual event, Toona Tune Up, has been going strong in large part because of its founder Robin DeShong. 

“I noticed we don’t really do anything the last few weeks of school, so why not do some good?” DeShong said.

DeShong is widely responsible for organizing the event, but she gets much help from teachers, new and old, around the school. 

“I’ve always wanted to participate, but I never had a club to do it with,” English teacher Megan Leone said. “This year, I was able to do it with the Gender Sexuality Alliance. I’m excited to meet some new students and help the community.” 

This sentiment is echoed by long time volunteer and physical education teacher Thomas Palfey.

“We are all thankful to Ms. DeShong for putting in as much effort as she does because it’s always a great day,” Palfey said.

The event, even though it’s only one day at the end of the year, has made noticeable improvements in Altoona. 

“When we first started out, the underpass would always have graffiti all over it, but I’ve noticed when we cleaned it year after year the amount of graffiti has gone down to the point where we don’t even paint it anymore,” DeShong said.

For the vast majority of students, Toona Tune Up is just one day, but for DeShong, it is a year round event.

“Securing the rakes, paint, mulch and all the other things we need requires leg work,” Deshong said. “Then, [we] have to return everything clean, so that adds another layer of time and effort.”

This sentiment is furthered by physics teacher David Borst, who has also been a part of the community volunteer effort for quite some time. 

“Ms. DeShong puts a lot of time into preparing for this event,” Borst said. 

The 2024 Toona Tune Up will be DeShong’s last time running the event, as she will be retiring at the end of the school year.

“I live by the philosophy that you need to leave your legacy throughout your career, not the last year of it,” DeShong said.

Throughout her 21-year-long career, she has taken anywhere from 250-500 students and teachers. 

“The school seems to really like it because one, you get to go outside during the school day. And two, you get to accomplish something which always feels good, especially when it’s for your community,” DeShong said. 

As DeShong enters her last year of Toona Tune Up, senior Rayan Saeed is entering her first. 

“I am excited to be outside in nature and be around people who are willing to help the community,” Rayan Saeed said. 

Toona Tune Up is to take place on May 28.  

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About the Contributor
Gracie Gioiosa
Gracie Gioiosa, Reporter
After enjoying the intro to pub class so much last year (especially when we got into opinion writing!), I decided to join the news staff this year as a junior. Other than writing, I love reading, biking, running, listening to podcasts and being outdoors. After high school, I hope to go to college and law school and move to Pittsburgh. Until then, I can't wait to have a fantastic year writing for the Mountain Echo!

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