Students' project benefits school

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By Jesef Williams

KERSHAW - Thanks to a service learning project, teachers and students at Andrew Jackson Middle School can enjoy the outdoors while eating lunch or having class.

About 20 students took on the task last semester of building eight picnic-style tables that now sit on a grassy area behind the school-s gymnasium. In the past, when a teacher wanted to have class outdoors, everyone usually had to sit on the ground.

A group of students in Susan Hagins- service learning class saw outdoor tables as a major need when thinking about what they wanted to take on for their semester project.

They began the process in September by seeking a grant from Young People in Charge, an arm of the Lancaster Children-s Council. They completed an application, which required them to outline the project in detail and explain how it would be beneficial to others.

The students were awarded $500.

After the necessary materials were gathered - including 2-inch by 4-inch wood, hammers and saws - it was time for the dirty work. With help from some parents, the students built the tables before Christmas.

"I was very impressed with the students working together to get this done," Hagins said. "I saw them encourage each other. There was a lot of self empowerment, to see the kids feel good about what they're doing."

Seventh-grader Monterius Foster said he wanted to drop the service learning class after being placed in it, but later realized that is was more of a benefit than anything else.

"I learned that anybody can do what they want to when they put their mind to it," said Foster, who managed the money used to buy the supplies. "We didn't think we could build eight tables by the end of the year."

Zach Mungo, an eighth-grader, was of about 15 students not enrolled in the service learning class who volunteered in the mornings and on Saturdays to help complete the project.

About 40 students worked on the tables in all.

Mungo believes everyone will be able to enjoy them. Some classes have already eaten on them, especially over the last few days when the temperatures have been in the 60s.

"I think it'll be better to have class outside than inside," Mungo said. "Teachers - I know they want to get outside, too.'

Contact Jesef Williams at 283-1152 or jwilliams@thelancasternews.com