New community service class at Medora making an impact

MEDORA — Inside and outside Medora Community Schools, students in a new class are making a difference.

This trimester, high school students enrolled in a community service class have completed projects within the school and around the community.

Reuben Nehrt, a social studies teacher at the school who is teaching the class, said initially, he and the students came up with a bunch of ideas for what the community needed.

“We started off in the school to begin with because we’re actually short on custodial help, and this worked out perfectly, and so we were able to help the custodians,” he said. “We ended up helping in the lunchroom a bit, taking recycling — boxes, cans — and then we cleaned up the weight room. We actually had one of the kids weld some of the equipment. He took it home, welded it and brought it back. We’ve had some people help out in kindergarten.”

Then the class began venturing outside the school.

“A lot of walking around the school. We’ll pick up trash. We’ll pull the weeds in the playground area,” Nehrt said. “We went to the park and cleaned it up. We had a backpack blower, and we blew off the basketball court. There were some pebbles, dirt, debris, stuff like that, so we cleaned it up. We started branching ourselves out more and more.”

On Sept. 29, the class tackled its largest project, assisting the Medora Community Lions Club with its biannual effort of picking up trash along State Road 235. The club does that once in the spring and once in the fall.

A few Medora seniors volunteered to help the class with the recent trash pickup, 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 next trimester, and then Nehrt will teach it for the third trimester.

“Indiana is actually creating more pathways for graduation, so this will work as some credits. I’m glad they’ve taken that route,” he said.

“Whenever I first hired on at Medora, this is something that I would have loved to have done, but there was never a class for it, it was never built into the structure,” Nehrt said. “At the beginning of this school year, we talked about it, and it was like, ‘Is this something you would be willing to do?’ and I was all for it. I was like, ‘Yes. Put some kids to work. This will be great for them.’”

There are several benefits to this new class offering, he said.

“I think it’s excellent just helping out in the community, taking part in that kind of social responsibility,” Nehrt said. “It seems like today more and more, what I notice is that kids don’t always get these opportunities. There are a lot of things that take them away from it, just even the technology and stuff, they are inside a lot more. So this is getting them out, they are active and they get to help out. I think it’s great.”

Plus, they get out and meet a lot of different people in the community.

“That’s part of it, making social connections,” Nehrt said. “It has been excellent.”

Putting community service projects on a college or job application and their résumé will be good, too.

“If they can get a little bit of volunteer work under their belt, I think that’s fantastic,” Nehrt said.