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NR High School students learn to serve

New Richmond High School students will be serving the community again this spring.

The third annual Service Learning Day is slated for May 18. On that day, rain or shine, teams of 20 to 40 students, faculty members and adult volunteers will fan out across the area to paint, clean, plant, sing and pick up garbage.

According to Trish Moberg, one of the teachers helping coordinate the day's activities, 40 to 43 projects are scheduled to be completed by students that day. About 850 students, grades 9 through 12, will participate in the projects in one form or another.

"There are a lot of the same projects this year," she said, "but this year we've had a lot of student groups come forward and tell us things they'd like to do. It's becoming a lot more student driven."

The school is trying to tie the service projects into actual coursework, said Jerrod Hamdorf, another teacher/coordinator.

Students who are in music are being directed into service projects dealing with performances for senior citizens. Those in the construction skills classes are being used for more hands-on projects.

"We're trying to get it connected to the curriculum more," he said. "It's not just about service, which is awesome by itself. But it's also about learning as well."

Among the planned service projects are:

• Developing a nature walk near First Lutheran Church.

• Roadside garbage pick-up at several locations.

• Jazz Band and madrigal singer performances at The Deerfield, St. Croix County Health Center and Signet Health and Rehabilitation Center.

• Garden planting throughout the city.

• City-wide food drive, with donations delivered to the Five Loaves Food Shelf in New Richmond.

• Two car washes will be offered, with donated money benefitting the Alzheimer's Memory Walk in New Richmond.

A student film crew will also be traveling to each of the work sites on May 18 to document the event for a promotional video.

"We're hoping the weather is good," Moberg said. "Last year it was a little rainy, but that's all out of our control."

Moberg said the day's slate of activities is pretty well set, but she welcomes any requests from shut-ins or private individuals in need of help. If the requests are manageable, the Service Learning Day organizers will try to add the jobs to the schedule.

"We'd love to do more of that for people," she said. "We just can't get a list of who the shut-ins are, because of privacy laws. We have to rely on people calling in."

Anyone interested in volunteering to be an adult chaperone for the service day, or anyone wishing to request a work crew, can contact Moberg at 243-7454.

Overall, the plans for this year's Service Learning Day have gone smoothly. With three years under their belts, organizers know what to expect and how to schedule projects.

Through the history of the day, Moberg said the community and school are making stronger connections that carry through the entire year. She's convinced such events as the recent Senior Citizen Prom wouldn't have occurred without the connections created by the service day.

Hamdorf agrees, noting that students continue to look forward to the Service Learning Day each year.

"It's been a good experience," Hamdorf added. "The kids are still excited about it."