There is always something that we can do for people in need, and that is what have shown us the teenagers form the Alternative Learning Center in Dubuque, Iowa.
These students wanted to make a difference and instead of playing basketball or running laps at the end of the school year, they found a benevolent way how to earn their P.E. credits. Earning P.E. credits is a part of their school’s curriculum and these credits are acquired in the last two weeks of school when students should be volunteering in various activities. The students from ALC have also spent the last two weeks of school earning their physical education credits, but in a different manner than their peers.
Namely, they have decided to help elderly or people with disabilities with their landscaping needs. They do physical work in the garden and perform any job that the homeowner needs to be done in two hours per day. These jobs usually involve weeding, raking, cutting bamboo, and cleaning gutters.
This project has been for the first time introduced four years ago, after the school board decided to have a garden that will bring benefits for the students and the community.
The Alternative Learning Center in Dubuque, Iowa, is commonly attended by students who are at risk of dropping schools and it represents an alternative to the traditional high school setting.
In this school there are many designed projects that engage both junior and senior high school students so that they can recover their credits and get back on track. This will allow students to eventually graduate and have a degree. However, this project acted in two ways the community got what it wanted and the students earned their credits.
The students were lead by their teacher of social studies, Tim Hitzler, who actually initiated this new program. In the beginning the students were not thrilled about this new way of earning credits, but once they have started they enjoyed the work in the yard and helping people in need. In this way they have experienced the real world and managed to learn real-life skills. Hitzler is with them all the time and says that they work really hard and properly do their jobs.
Mike Cyze, a spokesperson for the Dubuque Community School District, reported that 29 students of ALC students participated in the service program thus earning their P.E. credits. Their teacher, Hitzler stated that 12 of them signed up to do the yard work.
This program showed results as some of the students have continued doing the community service even during their summer breaks. They found helping people very fulfilling and because of that volunteered again during the summer.
The community benefited a lot from this program as most of the community members enjoyed the company and help of these young people and invited them for dinners and barbeques.