Students Step Up to Clean Up

After the homecoming celebration at Thornapple Kellogg, the football stadium needed a major clean-up. State soccer finals would take place at the stadium the next weekend, but there wasn’t much time or money to make it presentable.

To the rescue came the middle school’s Teen Leadership classes.

On Monday morning following homecoming, they started picking up the area while getting a lesson on supporting their school and community.

Fifty-five students in the Teen Leadership classes tackled the job. Seeing what the football stadium looked like before and after, and being able to say ‘I did that!’ made for a good day, said one of the students who participated.A Teen Leadership student picks up trash under the bleachers

Mary Francisco, a Teen Leadership class and math instructor, suggested the idea during an athletic booster meeting. “We believe community service is a way to show leadership skills,” Francisco said. “Our custodians take a lot of time to clean up (the stadium) so we decided to help out. The kids were very excited and loved it. They understood the value of helping.

The semester-long leadership class has been offered to sixth-graders for six years, said Stacy Knorr, also a Teen Leadership and math instructor. “We talk about the right and the wrong way to be a leader,” she said.

The stadium clean-up was the first community service project students have done this year. Also underway is the collection of hygiene products for Barry County United Way. In past years, students have had food drives, cleaned up school yards, made Christmas cards for elderly citizens and collected for a backpack drive.

Some students came away with new attitudes about community service. “It makes us feel good because we are helping the community and the environment,” said one of the students involved in the clean-up.

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Linda Odette
Linda Odette is a freelance writer and editor with more than 30 years of experience in journalism. She’s worked primarily as an editor in feature departments at newspapers in West Michigan, including the Grand Rapids Press, the Muskegon Chronicle and the Holland Sentinel. She lives in East Grand Rapids near the Eastown edge, has a teenage son and a daughter in college. Read Linda's full bio

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