FORTVILLE – They could have spent the day dressed in pajamas, stationed on the couch.
Mt. Vernon students participated in their annual e-learning day Wednesday, when students log onto school-issued computers to complete school work from home in anticipation of future bad weather keeping buses from getting kids to class.
But Wednesday, students were invited to put that work off for a few hours and give back to the community they call home.
More than 100 middle and high school students signed up to spend part of their day completing community service. They repaired fences and painted gazebos in parks, read to children and landscaped areas around town.
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The day of caring gave the school district a special opportunity to partner with various area agencies. After surveying local organizations about their needs, school officials compiled the to-do list, inviting students to sign up for projects meeting their interests.
They were sent into the community, chaperoned by Mt. Vernon staff members, to do the jobs that often get put on the back burner when organizations and groups’ resources and time are taxed.
At American Legion Park in Fortville, students took on dirty work, ridding areas of the park of weeds and repairing horseshoe pits.
They worked hard and fast, said American Legion post commander Steve Driscoll.
Without the students’ help, the work likely wouldn’t have been completed, Driscoll said. Right now, he’s the only person overseeing care of the park.
Many members of Fortville’s American Legion are older now, and they can’t do the hard labor that needs to be completed, Driscoll said. So they rely on volunteers, like the students who lent a hand Wednesday.
“They did a great job,” he said.
At Fortville-Vernon Township Public Library, a group of students used the day to read stories to children and help organize crafts.
For child educator Jenna Wolfgang, inviting the students to the library served as a chance for her to accomplish work that would typically take her hours to do on her own.
When they weren’t telling stories to youngsters or helping them make Clifford the Big Red Dog from painted paper plates, students cut felt and construction paper and pieced together supplies for future craft projects.
As she assembled bags full of supplies children will need to build their own superhero, Taylor Keppler said she saw Wednesday’s community service day as a chance to help out.
A volleyball player, she doesn’t have much time to complete community service, so she was happy to spend part of her e-learning day helping out, even if she had to spend most of the evening completing the day’s assignments that still needed to be finished.
The seventh-grader loves working with children and knew right away she’d want to spend the day reading to them when she looked over the list of sites where students were needed. She asked all of her friends to pick the library to make the day more fun.
“I figured today would be a good day to get out and help in our community,” she said.
Signing up to serve the community was easy to agree to, said sophomore Alyson Godwin.
Students didn’t get out of doing school work — they’re required to complete a full day of assignments — but e-learning days are generally pretty easy, Alyson said.
And the assignments never take as long.
She and her twin sister, Sydney, spent about three hours at the library. Once finished, they were headed home to get to work.
And across the community, groups were grateful for the help.
“They’re getting all my busy work done,” Wolfgang said. “It would take me a very, very long time to do it.”