Maywood, IL...Freshmen and sophomores at Proviso East High School gave a helping hand to the community on May 9 as they took part in the school’s second annual Service Learning Day.
About 650 students helped out in several projects at Proviso East and as far away as Chicago. They did everything from making blankets for veterans and planting trees on the Proviso East campus to helping out at area food pantries. One volunteer group even participated in removing the invasive garlic mustard plant and monitoring macro invertebrate at Thatcher Woods. Students also helped make cat toys at CatVando, a cat shelter in Maywood, read to students at District 89 schools, and helped to clean up and other tasks at the Ronald McDonald House.
"We have a huge lineup," said Marcia LaPorte, a Proviso East art teacher who helped to coordinate the Service Learning Day. "These kids are going places, and they’re experiencing hands-on learning."
In the social room at Proviso East, students made door pulls that will be used by service dogs through Heartland Service Dogs of Mokena. Students, with the help of Ms. Karen Golin, a family and consumer sciences teacher at Proviso East, braided strips of cloth together to form a strand strong enough for a dog to bite down on and pull to open a door.
Kori Jacobs, 16 and a sophomore, said that she liked the project and volunteering in general.
"I really like volunteering because I can help someone who needs it," she said.
Jeremiah Lewis, 15 and a freshman, also liked being able to serve.
"It helps other people," he said. "It shows that you care."
The students who took part in the Service Learning Day earned volunteer hours that can be applied to their community service requirement, Ms. LaPorte said. Those students who did not participate stayed at school and learned about civic responsibility and other issues such as safe driving, positive self-image, anti-bullying, teen health, and drug and alcohol abuse.
Mr. Tony Valente, principal at Proviso East, said that Service Learning Day is a good opportunity for students.
"The students are able to get out into the community and apply some of what they learned in a good and constructive way," he said. "The community benefits and the students benefit."
Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, superintendent of District 209, agreed, saying that students need every opportunity they get to learn and serve in the community.
"We are always looking for ways for students to broaden their horizons and see a greater world beyond their school," she said. "By participating in Service Learning Day, they are able to learn about the community around them, see the needs that exist, and help do something about them."