FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Forsyth County middle school students pitched in recently to help their community at the third annual Eighth Grade Day of Service.
The event encourages middle school students to become involved in activities that help the community.
“It was really impactful to have the students involved in meaningful and purpose-filled work,” Dawn James, 8th grade Georgia Studies teacher at Lakeside Middle School said.
This year, Lakeside students undertook several community-based and in-house service projects which allowed students to make an impact within and beyond school walls, James said.
On Oct. 21, 25 eighth grade students took over the school’s media center inventorying, sorting and boxing up books for Isabelle’s Book Club, a local nonprofit that serves children with a parent who is incarcerated. The nonprofit gives away books to children who visit a parent who is detained at county jails.
Some of the students manually typed in ISBN barcodes from each book to create an inventory for the Book Club before passing them on to student “sorters” who determined whether the book was suitable for a lower elementary school student, an upper elementary school student or a middle school student. After sorting was completed, student “packers” gathered up a variety of books so they could be returned to the Book Club for adult volunteers to take to the jails.
In a matter of an hour, the students managed 500 books.
“I am still hearing the buzz from students about how much they enjoyed the projects,” James said. “Perhaps the comment, ‘This was the best day of school I have ever had,’ says it all.”
This was James’ first time as part of the service day design and work.
“Community service work goes hand-in-hand with the culture of acceptance and appreciation we are building here at Lakeside, and it reinforces the character traits we are building with our students and our school mantra — PRIDE (positivity, respect, integrity, diligence, and effort),” she said.
Projects were varied, and so were the locations, as groups of Lion middle schoolers went to Haw Creek and Mashburn Elementary Schools to work with students and teachers in all grade levels with partner reading, PE, and lunch. Others participated in a trail clean-up at Haw Creek Park for the Forsyth County Parks Department. Both Supporting Adoption & Foster Families Together, Inc. (SAFFT) and The Place of Forsyth provided projects for the eighth graders that included preparing mailings and wrapping silverware for weekly community meals, James said.
Students worked around their school, cleaning and organizing classrooms, art rooms and teaching materials, while others moved sporting equipment to off-season storage and inventoried uniforms for sport teams. Still others took over custodial duties and cleaned the lunchroom while their schoolmates sorted the school’s lost and found.
The eight graders will continue to perform service work in the next few months, too, helping sort collections of winter items at Patterson, Moore & Butler, a local law firm. Donations are currently underway at the middle school and its feeder elementary schools as part of the MSG Socks, Coats and Gloves campaign which runs through the end of November.
Letter-writing to active duty military is another project for the students, one that James described as “near and dear” to her heart. James is a veteran herself. The letters will accompany the November shipment of goodies provided by Treat for Troops.
Intermingled with their hard work, students participated in discussions about the meaning of service work and their personal experiences with various projects.
“The day was an exceptional experience for our students and teachers,” James said. “It was a reminder that we all have talents that can help others, and the personal reward from service is much greater than we will ever give.”