June 12, 2023

Friends of the Children Featured in Missoulian

Friends of the Children moves into its new home at Mount Jumbo Elementary

Long-vacant Mount Jumbo Elementary sees new life with mentor program

On one of her last days of first grade, 7-year-old Kerry got a tour of a building long empty of students: Mount Jumbo Elementary.

In her purple T-shirt emblazoned with “girlboss” on the front, Kerry hinted she wanted to open the front door, repeating first to her mentor and then to the executive director: “I know how you put the key in.”

Commended for showing responsibility, she was given the key, opened the door and led the group inside the East Missoula school.

Inside were the leftovers of a school closed in 2006. A couple dozen old practice cars for Driver's Ed sat on their backs in the hallways. One classroom was filled to the brim with a pile of chairs, desks and shelving. Nonetheless, Kerry was excited to see and show it all, from the leftover hangers in closets to a still-functioning water fountain attached to a classroom sink.

Kerry is the first of many children who will soon be regulars at the school as youth mentoring program Friends of the Children moves into its new home at Mount Jumbo Elementary.