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Junior high students help Jackson community at first Service Learning Day

Jackson junior high students spent Friday, Sept. 20, helping others in the first Service Learning Day at the school. Students took part in a variety of community service activities from reading to elementary students to cleaning up Cape Splash.

Russell Hawkins Junior High Principal Cory Crosnoe said the idea for the day came from the district’s 2016 strategic plan. “A big thing that came out of the strategic plan was that kids need the opportunity to do service and learn about service and volunteering.”

Crosnoe said this is the first group of students at the junior high to do at least 10 hours of community service learning as part of their curriculum. Each advisory group, consisting of around 20 students from both seventh and eighth grade, were able to choose with their teacher what they wanted to do during the service learning day.

Several groups went to parks throughout the county to pick up trash, add mulch and paint concession stands. Other groups did projects around the junior high or went to one of the elementary schools to read with younger students.

Social studies teacher Kyle Mabuce’s advisory class went to the Oliver House to do yard work and clean the exterior of the house, while language arts teacher Autumn Stevens’ advisory class went to Jackson Manor to play bingo with the residents.

“I feel like this is a part of education that I think we should focus on even more, so I’m glad we’re doing this,” Stevens said. She added that the school would not have been able to pull off such an ambitious event without having amazing students. “They always impress me whenever they’re around elderly people – it seems that they take on a new persona and they’re more mature.”

After visiting several of the groups, Crosnoe shared that view on the student’s behavior. “I didn’t see anyone sitting around, refusing to participate,” he said. “Everybody has been jumping in.”

For groups that did not volunteer the whole day, students spent their afternoon participating in team-building activities and did a Missouri Connection survey to learn more about their goals and potential careers. Students also began recording their volunteer experiences in a Google Site portfolio.

Their portfolios, which will include pictures of their experience and summaries of what they’ve done, will go with them to the high school and can even be used when applying for colleges.

“Colleges always are asking about what you have done volunteer wise, and they are going to have this portfolio that show that they’ve been doing this since the seventh grade, along with everything else they’ve done,” Crosnoe said.

Crosnoe said they plan on making Service Learning Day a bi-annual event, with students getting the opportunity to do volunteer work during school hours once a semester. In the spring, the school is planning on fundraising for Feed My Starving Children and spending a Friday packing the meals.

“It’s a neat concept that we are putting into motion, and we are certainly going to learn from this year,” Crosnoe said. “We look forward to what the future holds.”

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past five years. He can be reached at

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