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Friday, May 7th, 2010

Leaving legacy of community improvements

By Betty Lawrence

Coldwater High School seniors Janessa Kahlig, left, and Molly Homan clear brush. . .

COLDWATER - Beads of sweat rolled off the foreheads of Coldwater High School seniors as they cut, yanked and filled the bed of an old Ford pickup truck with branches and debris.
They were cleaning the overgrown path that led to Harbor Point peninsula behind the 4-H campground, as well as the point of the peninsula itself.
"We're hoping the 4-H campers and the public will use this spot to picnic and fish," senior Molly Homan said as she loaded a pile of branches onto a truck driven by senior Mitch Kaiser.
The work at Harbor Point is one of six community service projects being completed by the senior civics classes at Coldwater High School as part of the school's Learn and Serve program. Civics instructor Pete Lisi noted this is the fourth year for the service program.
"Each year, the classes have a brainstorming session to pick out projects they feel will benefit the community," he said. "The project must fill a need in the community or solve a problem. They have to plan it, enact it and complete the project in a one-month period. The students run the show."
Senior Alex Winner admitted the project was a lot harder than he expected as he took a minute to rest at the Harbor Point peninsula.
"But we still had our fair share of laughs," added Alex Gray with a grin, recalling a water snake and numerous large hairy spiders chased up by the students. "They (spiders) like to hide under the rocks."
The project also included Klosterman Concrete putting a concrete picnic table at the point for public use, and students laying paver bricks at a watering area used by 4-Hers during summer camp.
Another civics class built two dugouts for the varsity softball field at the school. Funding came from a grant received by the CAV Booster group.
That class also cut out and moved 8 tons of sod to the Stepping Ahead daycare facility in Coldwater and painted a shed located beside the dugouts.
"It was a big project, but we had a blast and had a lot of fun," senior Nick Franzer said.
Much of the work was accomplished after school and on weekends, he said, adding he expects the project to be fully completed in another week.
"I think we also learned a lot about how to come together as a team to get things done," Franzer said.
Other class projects included work at the village's Memorial Park, cleaning up a fishing area along U.S. 127 and Coldwater Creek and dressing up the school's new soccer field with a scoreboard and landscaping.
"I just love this (Learn and Serve) project," Lisi said. "It brings these kids together and gives them a chance to showcase what they are best at, outside of the traditional classroom."
The projects teach the students about responsibility, organization and community pride, he said.
"When they're done they can look back and say, look what we accomplished. Over the years, they will still feel that sense of pride, something they will carry on into adult life," Lisi said.
The service project accounts for a class grade. There are a number of components to the project, Lisi said, such as students keeping a portfolio and making a presentation in front of school staff.
"We try to teach the kids, do it not for recognition but because it needs to be done," he said. "You don't always get something back in return immediately. You do it because it's the right thing to do."
Additional online stories on this date
COLDWATER - Longtime Coldwater head football coach John Reed lost his battle with cancer this morning at the age of 64.
Reed, who was diagnosed with esophageal cancer before last fall's state football playoffs, was surrounded by his family when he passed around 3 a.m. this morning. [More]
CELINA - In just two years, special education teacher and mother Michelle Houts has become an-award winning novelist who travels from her Celina country home to conferences and appearances throughout the United States. [More]
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