Photo by Melinda Dudley
Eighth-graders Lindsay Miles and Brandon Leu hunt for trash along Colorado Highway 131 on Thursday in Oak Creek, where Soroco Middle School students participated in National and Global Youth Service Day.
Oak Creek Instead of breaking out the books in language arts and social studies classes Thursday, Soroco Middle School seventh-grader Brittney Romero got a hands-on lesson in tree planting and high-water avoidance.
"Decker Park is like a swamp everywhere, and I fell in that," Brittney said.
Students raised money to buy the trees they planted Thursday as part of a fundraiser for the Jane Goodall Institute. Thursday's activities were part of the school's observance of National and Global Youth Service Day.
The day typically is celebrated in April, but May is much more plausible when scheduling National and Global Youth Service Day in Colorado, co-organizer Stephanie Rio said. Rio, an AmeriCorps volunteer, is a school-based mentor at Soroco Middle School.
"It's basically just meant to get them out in the community, meeting with the residents and teaching them what they can do to help other people," Rio said. "They understand that what they're doing is benefiting them and their school community."
Although less-than-ideal weather rained out some of Soroco's original projects, including painting curbs and fire hydrants for the Oak Creek Public Works Department, the students kept busy with school beautification and community cleanup projects.
In the morning, students were dispatched to do yard work for elderly residents in Oak Creek.
"We raked up all the yard stuff and freaked out because there were worms flying everywhere," seventh-grader Carol Kissick said.
After gathering for team-building activities such as the "human knot," the eighth-graders were sent across town with gloves and trash bags to haul everything from roadside litter to abandoned couches to the Dumpster.
Eighth-grader Lauryn Bruggink said spending half of her school day doing community service was a nice change of pace as the school year wraps up.
"It's always good to help the community," Lauryn said. "And the pizza doesn't hurt."