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CREC Civic Leadership High School Students Volunteer in Community for Public Service Day

Each year, as part of the school’s theme, CREC Civic Leadership High School (CLHS) holds semi-annual Public Service Days to provide opportunities to put learning into action. This school year’s first Public Service Day was Wednesday, October 17. But this year was special because of the school’s new broader theme of Civic Leadership.

“The theme was public safety in the past, which is a niche kind of theme,” said CLHS Theme Coach Cory LaChance, who organized the day with fellow Theme Coach Nancy Rosenbaum. “So we were able to broaden it to Civic Leadership, which Public Safety is an important part of, but it’s not the whole thing.”

“This our fourth Public Service Day, and one of the things that we wanted to instill into our school was the importance of public service. And we think it’s so important that we shut down the school for a whole day and everybody goes out,” said CLHS Principal Jeff Larson. “It’s fantastic a lot of our kids walk out and are saying, ‘Ugh, where am I going?’ or ‘What am I doing?’ and then they come back and they all have smiles on their faces because they know they just did something great.”

At 8 a.m., CLHS ninth, tenth, and eleventh-graders boarded buses, bound for a variety of sites throughout the Greater Hartford area to serve the community.

“We do the event twice a year in fall and spring, as a theme coach, we book the outside sites by reaching out to community organizations to see who needs assistance,” said LaChance

The list of organizations and locations helped by CLHS this year is extensive:Charities of Hope, Hartford – sorted clothing donations

Charter Oak Greenway, Highland Park to Charter Oak Park, Manchester – trail clean-up

Charter Oak Greenway, Sunset Ridge in East Hartford to Manchester Community College – trail clean-up

Congressman Joe Courtney Campaign, 312 Hazard Ave, Enfield – assisted with mailings to constituents

CREC Ana Grace Academy of the Arts Elementary, Avon – tutored elementary students

CREC Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts Middle School, Hartford – tutored middle school students

CREC International Magnet School for Global Studies, South Windsor – tutored elementary students

CREC Soundbridge, Wethersfield – grounds clean-up

CREC University of Hartford Magnet, West Hartford – tutored elementary students

Glory Chapel of Hartford – cleaned the church grounds

Goodwin Park, Hartford – helped to set up for Holiday Light Fantasia

Manchester Area Conference of Churches – prepared meals for the homeless, sorted and organized stock in a food pantry

New Dimension Christian Center, Hartford – church nursery and kitchen clean-up

“I think that Public Service Day gives you such a great idea, perspective, of what you want to do,” said CLHS junior Tiron Cannon, of Hartford, who traveled with his political science class to make calls and send postcards for Connecticut Democrats at Congressman Joe Courtney’s Enfield Office. “At first, I had a closed mind, I didn’t want to do this. But then being here, it’s not bad! The people are nice, we’re making phone calls. I think it’s good, it instills a lot of good characteristics into the students.”

“They’re actively campaigning, experiencing by doing, which is better than just learning in the classroom,” said Kevin Brown, the teacher of the political science class. “They’ve learned about what races are up for election this fall, taken a side, identified their ideology, researched the candidates, written letters to the editor in support, and now this is the piece where they’re out actually doing some campaign work. So this is a chance for them to see it firsthand.”

Supervising the students on Public Service Day is a unique opportunity for teachers and staff as well.

“It’s an opportunity for us all to get out of the classroom and learn more about each other but also learn about different public service modalities and connect with community members from all walks of life and charities and organizations,” said Jamie Roderick, a Spanish teacher who traveled with students to Goodwin Park in Hartford to help set up for the Holiday Light Fantasia that benefits the Channel 3 Kids Camp.

“It’s important that the kids feel ownership and have a genuine interest in bettering the community,” said Keely Ouellette, a chemistry teacher overseeing students sorting clothes for the Charities of Hope thrift store in Hartford’s South End. “ A lot of students live near this location so they’re familiar with the community and it’s important that they realize they can have a role in making it better”

Back at the school in Enfield, CLHS seniors hosted a variety of activities for eighth-graders from CREC Two Rivers Magnet Middle School. The gamut of activities was modeled after CBS’s “The Amazing Race.”

“They go all around the building and use their CREC Essential Skills, like problem solving and communicating, and they get hands-on with a lot of our theme-related equipment while the seniors take a leadership role,” said LaChance.

“Today, helping eighth-graders, I think this is just an opportunity for me to show them what we do so I can guide them with an opportunity for their future,” said senior Evan Silverio of South Windsor.

CLHS students accrue over fifty hours of community service during their time at the school.

“If they understand, by the time they walk across that graduation stage in four years, how important it is to give back to their community, we’re doing better than most,” said Larson.

CREC Civic Leadership High School’s website is http://clhs.crecschools.org


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