Westport 8th graders Noah Hart and Ronald “Hoss” Logan help spruce up outside the Depot Theatre last week.
Local students have been learning a lot in the classroom during the 2012-13 school year and are preparing for their finals and Regent’s examinations as we speak.
What we would like to draw attention to, though, is the learning that has been done at several schools this year that has had nothing to do with core curriculum or state testing. We’d like to recognize those schools that have place a value on not only the education that takes place inside school walls but also outside of those walls.
Last week, Westport Central School students, under the direction of the student council, teachers Adam Facteau and Cheryl Phillips, and support from the administration, held an ‘Adopt-Your-Town Day’ event throughout the community.
Students went to several locations in Westport, cleaning up streets, parks, trails, and buildings in a morning of service to the community that supports them. Each class was given an assignment at locations throughout the town and worked throughout the morning to help clean up their community.
While not traditional classroom learning, students did get a lesson from their day in the community. Most of the kids were smiling as they served, with one saying that they had more fun working than they did during the field day events held afterward.
The lesson is that serving the community you live in is always rewarding, something that you can take pride in not only as an individual but as a collective.
Phillips and Facteau said that the day was created as part of the school’s focus on character education, especially when it comes to community service. More and more, schools are implementing a community service aspect to the curriculum of the district, asking students to give a certain number of hours working in the community and giving their time to others.
The students at Westport Central School worked together to make their town a better place, and they should be commended as a group for what they did.
Earlier this year, students at Willsboro Central School held a school-wide food drive for the local pantry. Once all the food was collected, the entire school formed a human chain from the entrance of the school to the entrance of the food pantry, handing donations one at a time between each other and working as one to show their support for the community.
While these are two examples of school-wide service projects, there are many others that take place throughout the school year. Students in the Elizabethtown-Lewis Art Club painted murals at the Horace Nye Nursing Home and the Elizabethtown-Lewis Emergency Squad. The Schroon Lake National Honor Society hosts community blood drives and Ticonderoga students shop to support the local food pantry.
All of these examples take learning outside of the classroom and into the real world, where perhaps the biggest lessons that young adults will need as they progress toward community citizens can take place.
In order for a community to function, everyone should play a part. What schools are now doing is providing students not only with the tools to be a productive member of society when it comes to book learning, but also when it comes to character development. Giving students the building blocks of being strong citizens is vital in a world where reliance on each other is needed. We have seen how communities locally and nationally have rallied around each other in times of crisis or need, and giving students the chance to learn and grow through service to one other and the community ensures that the tradition of being there for others will continue well into the future.