Archive for Thursday, May 25, 2006

Starside students’ volunteerism recognized again

May 25, 2006

Students at Starside Elementary School completed more than 3,000 hours of volunteer work this school year, earning the school its fourth consecutive School of Service Award.

The award is given each year to a school whose students spend time volunteering in the community. This year, De Soto students helped their teachers after school, visited with nursing home residents, collected food for the needy and helped recycle to make their community a better place.

At a recognition ceremony Monday, Starside Principal Paula Hill told the student about how she introduced the idea of a community service program to board members five years ago.

"They thought 50 hours was a lot of time for elementary students," she said. "But year after year, the students at Starside have completed much more than that."

Mary Ellen Ponder, volunteer organizer with AmeriCorps in Kansas City, Mo., congratulated the students for their hard work.

"My grandma told me that you can never give anything away; it always comes back," she said. "Those of you that help feed the poor might be hungry some day. Those of you who help the elderly walk across the street might end up having trouble getting around one day."

Ponder encouraged the students to do more volunteering and said she disagreed with the idea that children are the leaders of tomorrow.

"The people who think that are wrong," she said. "You guys are the leaders right now. You're changing the world right now."

Students who completed 50 hours or more of community service received certificates for their service hours.

Fifth-grader Jonny Hodges completed 58 hours of service.

"My favorite part was working with my mom," he said. "She's a teacher at Riverview, and I got to help her with her room."

Fellow fifth-grader Diana Marquez earned 51 hours of volunteer service. She participated in the lunch buddy program, which pairs an older student with a kindergartner.

"That was my favorite one," she said. "I got to meet other people and learn about them."

Leslie Gooden, parent of Courtney Gooden, drove several of the fifth-grade girls in Girl Scout Troop 225 to their volunteering activities.

Sophia Templin, one of those fifth-graders, said her friend's mom made it easier to get volunteer hours.

"She took us everywhere -- to nursing homes and scrap booking -- so we could get our volunteering done," she said.

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