Instead of backpacks full of books, some students at Great Bend High School were seen carrying work boots into the school Wednesday morning. The entire GBHS population – about 900 teenagers as well as their teachers – was invited to take part in the school’s fourth annual Community Service Day.
After checking in with their advisers, everyone headed to the gymnasium for an assembly. There would be videos and kudos for ongoing projects, and an original song performed by Emilynn Wettengel before students boarded buses and headed to their first assignments of the day.
Ashley Durland, a senior in Sergio Rameriz’s art class, said her group was helping the Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“We are going to the Events Center to fill goodie bags,” she said.
Last year the team she was on helped pick up trash at Barton Community College, then visited the Great Bend Rehabilitation Center where they cleaned the bird cage and under the tables. They also spent time visiting with residents at the assisted living facility.
Students would also face multiple tasks this year. Coaches Randy Beck, Jeff Lutt and Tony Crough took a group to the Great Bend Sports Complex to pick up trash and pull weeds. Then they were bused to the Great Bend Activity Center, where they were treated to lunch and then put to work spreading 45,000 cubic feet of mulch at the new My BackYark playground.
Chris Umphres, the Great Bend Recreation Commission’s sports director, said a truckload of mulch was dropped off, and then trustees from the Barton County Detention Center moved piles of the material to the playground area. The trustees left before students arrived to finish the job.
During the morning assembly, Student Council President Christian Rivas thanked those who chose to participate in this year’s Community Service Day. “Together as one student body and staff we are able to give back so much to our community,” he said.
“This year one of our community service projects was a district-wide book drive,” Rivas added. More than 2,800 books were collected, including nearly 1,000 at GBHS. Jefferson Elementary students brought in 464 books. At the assembly, GBHS students Macy Moyers and Addison Ingram were recognized for bringing in 146 and 141 books, respectively, and everyone in instructor Tina Steinert’s class was recognized for bringing in a total of 153 books.
The National Honor Society sponsor, Kayci Strickland, and NHS President Shelby Deist presented a certificate of appreciation to Bob and Evelyn Essmiller from the Barton County Food Bank. They noted that last year NHS donated over $1,000 and a truckload of food to the food bank.
Stuco Vice President Rachel Carpenter also thanked the Kayettes for designing this year’s Community Service Day T-shirts. Every student who attended a service project received one.
Andra Stalcup and Abby Sandmann from Stuco were recognized for working many hours to help organize the day.