A group of Green Acres Middle School students are learning the value of community service this summer.
A dozen students will spend at least two weeks beautifying their campus by repainting baseball dugouts and door safety lines, removing on-campus graffiti, cleaning the school’s multi-purpose room, and assisting the school’s custodian. This is just one project funded by a Step Up Service Learning Grant, a Tulare County Board of Supervisors-funded program that aims to support service-learning projects that address gang activity and youth at-risk of joining a gang.
Green Acres Middle School Service Learning Grant Advisor Robert Crow said the project will serve as a valuable lesson for the students.
“Students generally feel disengaged from school activities and from their community,” Crow said. “The goal of this program is to develop an ongoing, vibrant and meaningful community service opportunity.”
On June 7, eight Green Acres Middle School students spent part of the morning painting basketball poles and the outside of the school’s baseball dugouts. On June 8, the students finished their baseball field project by painting the inside of the dugout.
The Green Acres Middle School service learning program is the first of its kind in Tulare County. Traditionally, the Step Up Service Learning Grant Program is targeted at high school students.
“Providing service learning projects at the middle school level is an important step to addressing the gang issue,” said Phil Cox, District Three Supervisor. “More and more students are getting involved in gangs at an early age. We want to engage our youth in meaningful community service projects before gang influences impact them.”
Supervisor Cox said if the Green Acres pilot project goes well this summer, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors will consider increasing funding for middle school projects.
“This grant program, at the high school level, has proven to be a major success,” Supervisor Cox said. “We want that same success at the middle school level as well.”
In addition to the Green Acres Middle School project, the following high schools conduct the following projects this summer:
Charter Alternative Academy, Visalia - Students will create a Middle School Cadet Corps and provide tutoring, mentoring and gang and drug prevention.
Farmersville High School, Farmersville - Farmersville High students will complete upgrades at the Farmersville Senior Center.
Visalia Charter Independent Study, Visalia - Students will learn about marine biology through a field trip. Students will then discuss gang and violence issues with 3rd grade students through biology analogies.
Orosi High School, Orosi - Orosi students will mentor incoming freshmen by providing information about school activities and clubs.
La Sierra High School, Porterville - Citrus High students will use video to record the history of local community heroes and make multiple documentaries.
Citrus High School, Porterville - Students will design and establish two community gardens at Porterville elementary schools.
Granite Hills High School, Porterville – Granite Hills students will design and participate in a camp to teach middle school and elementary students how to produce an online newspaper.