The Washington Community was the beneficiary of 300 volunteers on Monday as Washington Middle School students took time out of their morning to volunteer around the area for Orange and Black Day.
Orange and Black Day is a tradition at Washington Middle School (WMS) and is designed to give students opportunities to volunteer. The activities can range from yard work to helping in a day care setting. The goal of the day is to get students integrated into the community to learn what volunteer options are available.
Jami Jones, a paraeducator at WMS, spent her morning at Sunset Park. She said getting the students out of the building, into the community and doing something productive is beneficial not only to the community but to the students as well.
“The community gives to us, so it’s always good to give back to the community as well. It shows respect and it shows the handwork,” she said. “It’s always good to give and the kids feel very accomplished when they’re done.”
She said students often feel a sense of achievement after completing the work and are proud of what they have accomplished.
“I think that they just feel that with the community giving to them (and) with them giving back, they feel that they’re a part of that as well,” she said.
Amelia Dahl, a seventh-grader at WMS, was spreading mulch at Stewart Elementary Monday morning and said she enjoys hearing positive feedback from community members and enjoys the opportunity to get out of the classroom and volunteer. Natalie Prochaska, a WMS seventh-grader, agreed and said she enjoys being able to show the community that even though they are middle school students, they can make a difference, too.
“We get to show Washington that middle school (students) help give back to the community,” she said.
Shawna Manz, a resource teacher at WMS, said she enjoys participating in the day with the students because it allows her to interact with students she does not see on an everyday basis. She said students get a sense of accomplishment by working together and learn a variety of skills.
Sixth-grader Makiya Moyer spent her morning doing various activities such as painting a railing outside of Greiner Buildings. She said she enjoyed getting to see different businesses and interacting with people she would not normally see on a daily basis.
Caitlyn Welch is a student-teacher at WMS and said she was glad to be part of a school that encourages their students to give back.
“I think it’s cool that they do some sort of community service. That way they get themselves out in the community and that way they’re known,” she said. “When I was in high school we didn’t do much of this kind of stuff, but I think it’s great (because) that way places are all supportive of the school, too.”
TJ Rausch, an at-risk teacher at WMS, spent his morning helping students spread mulch around the high school baseball fields. He said the skills and responsibilities the students learn from volunteering are just as important as the curriculum they learn in the classroom.
He said he was glad the students had a chance to get out into the community and integrate themselves because even though they are middle-schoolers, they have a lot to offer the community.
“The students are willing, they just need an opportunity,” he said.