SHELDON—Eighth-grader Brett Engeltjes understands the purpose of Sheldon Middle School’s Service Day.
“It’s a really good way to help around the community and help the people that need it,” he said. “Some of the people are old and it’s good to help them and it’s a really great way to stay in shape.”
About 170 seventh- and eighth-grade students were dispatched across Sheldon on Friday, Oct. 19, to help clean up the community.
Students did everything from pulling weeds and picking up trash downtown to making pillowcase dresses for charity during Service Day.
“For our first try, this day turned out really well,” said Sheldon Middle School principal Cindy Barwick. “We had great support from the community in being willing to host our groups and provide opportunities for them to help. The weather was perfect, so that was helpful, too.”
The impetus for Service Day was to allow students to spend more time in their teacher-adviser room, or TA, which is akin to a homeroom.
“We began our year this year on the first day by spending the entire day with our TA,” Barwick said. “Everyone really enjoyed this day and wanted to do things throughout the year to maintain that feel. The community Service Day seemed like a good way to serve others and spend time with our respective TAs.”
Service Day started off with an assembly at the school where Sheldon mayor Tricia Meendering provided a word of encouragement to students before sending them off to help out around the community for the next couple of hours.
Some of the groups in town that benefited from the students’ labor were Kadens Kloset, Love INC., Prairie Arts Historical Park and Village Northwest Unlimited.
Furthermore, areas around the school building and two private residences also were serviced.
Eighth-grader Darian Heronemus was happy to get the opportunity to be outside and burn some energy while doing a good deed.
“It feels good to do something for the community,” he said. “It makes people happy, it makes teachers happy, it makes everybody happy — they get to run around and do something instead of sit down and do nothing all day.”
Considering the success of the first year, Barwick is open to doing Service Day again next year.
“We’d also like to do something on a smaller scale with our fifth- and sixth-grade students,” she said.
After they finished their work, students were taken to Pumpkinland in Orange City as a reward. However, Barwick expects her students gained something deeper from the experience.
“I hope students were able to see beyond themselves as they were helping others,” she said. “We hope that students were able to experience how it feels to help others; service learning certainly helps the groups that we are serving but it also helps the people who are doing the serving. I hope our kids were able to feel and experience that.”