MEDORA – Inside and outside Medora Community Schools, students in a new classroom are making a difference.
This term, high school students enrolled in a community service class completed projects within the school and around the community.
Reuben Nehrt, a social studies teacher at the school who teaches the class, said initially that he and the students came up with a bunch of ideas for what the community needed.
“We started at school to start with because we were short on guard help, and that worked perfectly, and so we were able to help the guards,” he said. “We ended up helping out in the dining room a bit, taking some recycling – boxes, cans – and then we cleaned up the weight room. In fact, one of the kids soldered some of the equipment. He took it home, welded it and brought it back. Some people helped us in kindergarten.
Then the class began to venture outside of the school.
“Lots of walking around the school. We will pick up the garbage. We will pull weeds in the playground,” Nehrt said. “We went to the park and cleaned it up. We had a backpack blower and we blew on the basketball court. There were rocks, dirt, debris, stuff like that, so we cleaned it all up. We started to diversify more and more.
On Sept. 29, the class tackled their biggest project, helping the Medora Community Lions Club with their biannual garbage collection effort along State Road 235. The club does this once in the spring and once in autumn.
A few senior citizens from Medora volunteered to help the class with the recent trash pick-up, so there were 12 students and Nehrt along with several Lions Club members.
Nehrt said the class meets every school day for an hour. A different teacher will lead the class the next term, and then Nehrt will teach it for the third term.
“Indiana is actually creating more pathways for graduation, so it will work like a few credits. I’m glad they went that route,” he said.
“Every time I’ve hired for the first time at Medora, it’s something I would have loved to do, but there was never a class for it, it was never built into the structure. “, said Nehrt. “At the start of this school year, we talked about it, and it was like, ‘Is this something you would be willing to do?’ and I totally agreed. I was like, ‘Yeah. Put some kids to work. It’ll be great for them.’
There are several benefits to this new class offering, he said.
“I think it’s great to just help the community, to take part in that kind of social responsibility,” Nehrt said. “It seems now more and more what I’m noticing is that kids don’t always have those opportunities. There’s a lot of things holding them back, even technology and all that, they’re a lot more on the inside. So it gets them out, they’re active and they can help. I think that’s great.”
Plus, they go out and meet a lot of different people in the community.
“That’s part of it, making social connections,” Nehrt said. “It’s been great.”
Putting community service projects on a college or job application and resume will also be a good thing.
“If they can get some volunteer work under their belt, I think that’s fantastic,” Nehrt said.