Students learn by serving others
New Richmond High School students, teachers and parent volunteers fanned out across the School District early Wednesday morning to work on a variety of projects.
Lilac colored T-shirts identified the workers who could be found from New Richmond's main street and back alleys to the shores of Cedar Lake in Star Prairie.
Students and volunteers worked in high gear to accomplish as much as possible during the morning hours.
Planters along Knowles Avenue are now bursting with color and the alley behind downtown businesses is much tidier than it was, thanks to the students' efforts.
An outdoor mural has begun taking shape on the south wall of Radio Shack and carloads of clothes and food have been picked up and taken to the Five Loaves Food and Clothing Center.
Two student-run car washes and vehicle fluid checks helped raise money for The Deerfield's Alzheimer's Memory Walk and the New Richmond Relay for Life.
The community garden was readied for the season by a bus load of workers who did everything from planting cold crops to laying black plastic and hoeing rows for seed plants.
"The high schoolers have helped with the community garden for the past five years," said Carolyn Barrette, master gardner. "Without their help we wouldn't get all this work done in time unless we mechanized, which is sort of beside the point of the community garden. The students are a big help."
The community garden distributes food to senior meal sites, WIC, Grace Place and several senior living centers, according to Barrette.
"It's pretty cool to give back to the community," said student Michael Kroll.
"Service Learning Day is great because we get to do some work and be outside."
In Star Prairie, students and volunteers were clearing brush and blazing trails at Saratoga Park.
"I think it's great the students are volunteering here at the park," said parent volunteer Shelly Matthys. "I have a vested interest in this project since I live just down the road."
The students at Saratoga Park said they like doing good things for the Earth and helping people who like to walk the trails.
Down the road a piece at McMurtrie Preserve, some students were putting up signs and gates. Others were laying a drainage pipe. One group was digging sedges from the woods while another group replanted the sedges around the edge of a retainer pond. All these projects were taking place under the watchful eyes of Erv Ericksen and Gene Tharp of the Star Prairie Fish and Game Association and Aleisha Miller of the St. Croix County Land and Water Conservation Department.
"These kids are doing a great job," Tharp said.
"The students are good workers," Miller said. "This is an educational preserve owned by the Star Prairie Land Trust so it is non-profit. This project is helping us out a lot."
"We have some big projects to be done this year," said Ericksen, "like building a shelter and putting bathrooms in, so these kids are saving us a lot of time by getting these jobs done."
At South Cedar Bay Landing, a group of students from the alternative high school were lining the bottom of a boardwalk with screen so plants couldn't grow up through spaces in the boards. They also built a wood duck box.
Chuck Magoon of Star Prairie Fish and Game said the volunteers at the landing were a big help and quite a timesaver for the Fish and Game volunteers.
Meanwhile, back in New Richmond, the jazz band and madrigal singers were on tour entertaining the residents of The Deerfield, St. Croix Health Center and New Richmond Meadows.
Another group of students held a kids carnival for kindergartners, some volunteers were decorating for the upcoming All-Night Graduation Party and others were helping landscape the Golf Course, The Deerfield, the American Legion, Mary Park, Prairieview Covenant Church, Perch Lake at Homestead Park and all four school campuses.
A pancake feed at Econofoods raised money for medical expenses for a local child born with heart defects.
High School teacher Trish Moberg, co-director of Service Learning Day (SLD), said this year was another success in the five years the school has been doing SLD.
"The weather cooperated, there was no snow on the ground," Moberg said. "The kids accomplished a lot for the community today while learning what it feels like to give something back."
The weary students arrived back at school to a picnic style lunch and an afternoon of entertainment as a reward for their efforts.