Hayden eighth-grader Belle Mazzola paints a wall in one of the middle school’s hallways along with classmates Tuesday as part of Global Youth Service Day, which was organized by the school-based mentor program Partners in Routt County. Organizers hope the program will empower youths to participate in service activities in their communities. Each Routt County middle school has projects planned as part of Global Youth Service Day.

Photo by John F. Russell

Hayden eighth-grader Belle Mazzola paints a wall in one of the middle school’s hallways along with classmates Tuesday as part of Global Youth Service Day, which was organized by the school-based mentor program Partners in Routt County. Organizers hope the program will empower youths to participate in service activities in their communities. Each Routt County middle school has projects planned as part of Global Youth Service Day.

Routt County students pitch in on Global Youth Service Day

Activities were a part of worldwide event

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Hayden eighth-grader Belle Mazzola holds a roller while working with classmates Tuesday as part of Global Youth Service Day, which was organized by the school-based mentor program Partners in Routt County.

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Hayden eighth-grader Deena Ward uses a roller while working with classmates Tuesday as part of Global Youth Service Day, which was organized by AmeriCorps volunteers who work as school-based mentors for Partners in Routt County. Organizers hope the program will empower youths to participate in service activities in their communities. Each Routt County middle school has projects planned as part of Global Youth Service Day.

— About 90 sixth- through eighth-graders put down their pencils and picked up brushes Tuesday afternoon to help paint Hayden Middle School’s hallways and classrooms.

The activity was part of Global Youth Service Day, which encourages youths to participate in service projects in their communities or schools.

Ali Moyer, an AmeriCorps volunteer who serves as a school-based mentor for Partners in Routt County, said Hayden’s mentors took suggestions from middle school students and faculty and decided to do something that would improve the school environment.

The reaction about the school’s new bright white and mint-green hallways was immediately positive from many students.

“It used to look like a mental hospital before we painted it,” sixth-grader Trent Gabel said. “It was white and boring. Now it looks like a normal school with some nice colors.”

Middle School Principal Gina Zabel said the school’s walls were white with a lavender tint for years. She said the district wanted to repaint the middle school interior for a while before the school-based mentors planned the project.

All the materials for the project were donated by Ace at the Curve, Alpine Lumber and Sherwin-Williams, all in Steamboat Springs, and the Hayden Mercantile. Zabel said the donations saved the school $400 to $500.

In addition to getting the students involved in a service activity, Zabel said the project had another benefit.

“With the kids doing it, that establishes a lot of respect for the building, their ownership and pride in the building,” she said.

It wasn’t the first time seventh-grader Matthew Hamilton had painted. Matthew said he’s helped his mom with a couple projects at their house but that this was different.

“It means quite a bit to help the school, and have some fun,” he said. “Everyone gets together and paints, not just a couple people do it.”

In addition to the painting project, some students helped organize clothes the school had collected as part of a Haiti relief effort.

The school-based mentors at South Routt Middle School and Steamboat Springs Middle School also have organized Global Youth Service Day projects for this week. The worldwide service effort took place last month, but the mentors decided this week would work out better locally because of the weather, Moyer said.

Mentor Lindsey Novak said the South Routt students would take on several projects Thursday in Oak Creek, including helping seniors with projects at their homes, repainting the inside of the ice rink and painting curbs. The students also plan to put on a puppet show at the South Routt Early Learning Center in Yampa.

In Steamboat, mentor Lind­say Dietz said the middle school students came up with a fundraiser — the 3-on-3 Jamboree from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday at the middle school. It includes a 3-on-3 basketball tournament for middle school students, but the climbing wall will be open and carnival games will be available for the public.

Students have paid $2 each, or donated two nonperishable food items, to play in the tournament. The climbing wall costs $2 or two food items. And Jamboree bucks — four for a $1 or four for one food item — will be sold for the carnival games. The monetary proceeds will be given to Heeling Friends, a local pet therapy program, and the food will be donated to LIFT-UP of Routt County.

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