AHS freshmen give back

Published 9:44 am Wednesday, May 13, 2009

They picked up beer bottles, rusty appliances and even disc golf discs as they trudged through wet grass and trees, but you didn’t hear any complaining.

With a little sweat and even more dirt, Todd Park was a cleaner place Friday morning.

All approximately 300 freshmen at Austin High School pitched in to give back to the community last week for 9th Grade Service Learning Day.

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For this annual effort, students brainstorm ideas for volunteering and take them to a vote. Some ideas making the cut this year included child care at the YMCA; helping at the Austin Public Library; clearing buckthorn at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center; working with the Go Green Club; writing letters to troops; and fundraising for breast cancer. Each volunteer group had a student photographer, who would contribute to a slideshow.

“A lot of people picked Todd Park and the YMCA,” teacher Michelle Boelter said.

Emily Thompson and Sydney Frish volunteered at the Mower County Chapter of the American Red Cross. The girls stapled forms, worked on mailing labels and created AIDS awareness ribbons.

“It was really fun,” Thompson said. “I want to do it again.”

Boelter said the purpose of Service Learning Day is to show students how giving back can be fun and rewarding. Students returned to school Friday afternoon for reflection assignments.

“We never have behavior issues,” Boelter said on Friday. “I think they are apprehensive at first, but then they get into it, and they like it.”

Some students develop an interest in volunteering after Service Learning Day.

Last year, the students turned lockers into “recycling bins,” which are still in use today.

“Today is not about you,” Boelter said.