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Student Organizations Create New Traditions for Local School

Volunteering during the holidays provides perspective for students and facilitates new traditions for community organizations. 

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Mason Hurrtte, Drum Major Longhorn Band at Rosedale

“Being involved outside the community of UT is definitely an important aspect of being a Longhorn Band member. We have a lot of outreach programs and multiple service organizations within the Longhorn Band, and we use these to reach out to the wider community.”
Mason Hurtte Longhorn Band Drum Major
Photo by Marsha Miller

As the Longhorn Band  wraps up a special Thanksgiving performance for the students, staff and family from the Rosedale School, emotions are high.

“We are so appreciative! Thank you very much,” beams drum major Mason Hurtte

“We love you guys,” responds Elizabeth Dickey, principal of the Rosedale School, thanking the band for their fifth year playing for the students.

“Having the UT marching band play has become a Thanksgiving tradition for our school,” says Dickey, “As a former Longhorn, I can’t really describe how much it means to have the university come out to support us.”

The music of 50 members of the Longhorn Band makes a big statement on the playground of the small Rosedale School with less than 100 students. Located just north of campus on 49th street, Rosedale serves students with significant multiple disabilities from all over the Austin Independent School District.

“Thanksgiving is a big holiday around here,” Dickey says, “We have a lot to be thankful for. We couldn’t do many of the specialized things we do here without outside community support.”

The Longhorn Band was not the only university group involved at the Thanksgiving luncheon. Volunteers from the Orange Jackets, Student Council for Exceptional Children, and the Texas Cowboys helped serve food and spend time with the students. 

[Learn more about how UT is one of six top research universities to earn the 2015 Carnegie Foundation Community Engagement Classification.]

Orange Jackets serve pie to students, family, and staff at the Rosedale School

Orange Jackets serve pie to students, family, and staff at the Rosedale School Thanksgiving Luncheon. (right) Miriam Petsch, History and Business Honors (left) Renee Fredrick, Plan II and Urban Studies
Photo by Marsha Miller

“It’s easy to get caught up in the college bubble,” says Miriam Petsch, history/business honors senior and a member of the Orange Jackets. “Opportunities to volunteer, like the Rosedale Thanksgiving luncheon, can provide perspective, and I think that is really humbling for all of us.”

At the luncheon he was serving turkey, but Chad Baldwin, finance junior and a Texas Cowboy, also comes to Rosedale to volunteer weekly in the classroom.

“Our motto is ‘Give the best you have and the best will come back to you,’” Baldwin says. “I think we are all really fortunate to be living in the Austin area and going to a great school. And there are several opportunities to give back.”

Principal Elizabeth Dickey show Texas Cowboys the new sensory room

Principal Elizabeth Dickey shows Texas Cowboys the new sensory room being renovated with the $15,000 the Texas Cowboys raised last year for the school. Photo by Marsha Miller

In addition to volunteering with the students and helping at events, the Texas Cowboys raised $15,000 over the past year for the Rosedale School to build a new sensory room.

“Fundraising through generous organizations like the Texas Cowboys adds to the impact of our largest fundraiser — the Rosedale Ride — and enables us to enrich the learning environment for our students,” says Dickey.


“We just see all these amazing groups that come here, and they have all this heart,” Dickey adds. “They do really challenging things for us. They have fun with us. They have fundraised for us. They have become a school band for us. It’s a great to see the city come together.” 

Rosedale Student Enjoying the Longhorn Band

Rosedale student enjoying the Longhorn Band. Photo by Marsha Miller

Want to learn about other UT volunteer opportunities? 

The Division of Diversity and Community Engagement supports the university’s public service mission by cultivating mutually beneficial community-university partnerships.

“Our students are incredible ambassadors in our work to forge these types of reciprocal relationships. On the one hand, community partners benefit from the energy and enthusiasm of students who can help them build capacity and address their priorities. On the other hand, students benefit from service in the community, perhaps in ways that they may never have imagined.” says Suchitra V. Guryraj, assistant vice president of the Longhorn Center for Community Engagement.  

The Longhorn Center for Community Engagement in the DDCE connects students, faculty and staff with surrounding communities by advising student engagement programs, facilitating the development of service-learning courses and offering public engagement programs.

To connect with community partners or volunteer for a service event, log into utvolunteers.org. Tag photos of yourself and your organizations serving in the community using #volunteerUT.