Sycamore students learn about service
by Daniel Flatt
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COOKEVILLE -- As part of the Volunteer Tennessee grant aimed at exposing students to service to the community, Sycamore Elementary students visited the Cookeville-Putnam County Animal Shelter this week to deliver supplies they had gathered throughout the year and to see just who their service project was affecting.

Beginning in the fall, the four teachers from each grade at Sycamore given the grant got with their students and brainstormed for ways to help their community. And the students came up with the idea of helping out the animals at the shelter.

"We were all kind of talking with the students and seeing where their interests lie," second grade teacher Mary Ruth Winford said. "We kind of gave them some general ideas of things that they might be capable of doing, because they are in elementary school. And they collectively chose to do the animal shelter."

With the grant money, the students made collection bins to gather supplies in for the animal shelter, and they designed and made posters to advertise the collection program. During their project, they got a visit from staff members at the shelter, learning how they and volunteers take care of the animals brought to the shelter.

Students Haley Alvarez and Eli Henry said they enjoyed the project and their visit to the shelter, commenting on the importance of helping out in the community.

"It's important to help the animal shelter," Henry said, "because dogs and animals need a home."

Alvarez followed, "(The volunteers) were nice. They give (the animals) food, and they were caring for them. They might have been lost or hurt."

Putnam County Service Learning Coordinator Gina Hale said exposure to service is very important in the education of young people.

"I think that it gives them a sense of belonging to their community and that they can do things in their community to make a difference," Hale said of the younger students like the second-graders at Sycamore. "It gives them some kind of realization that they are worth something that they might not get if they were not involved. It gets them involved and out into the community."

With a total of 1,200 students involved this year, the grant also includes projects by students at Avery Trace Middle, Cookeville High and White Plains Academy. Next year, it is expected to expand to Algood and Baxter Elementary schools and more teachers at CHS next year.
© 2010