Through collaboration with community partners, student groups have been increasing volunteer work in Turner.
At the annual USD 202 Strategic Plan meeting last summer, the Community Connection goal area - made up of district staff, parents, and community members - worked to identify initiatives for the 22 - 23 school year. According to data from the Communities that Care survey, which is taken by students in 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th grade, an area of weakness for our students was feeling a low sense of neighborhood attachment. Based on this data, the group felt that there were initiatives the school district could take on that might help improve the connection and sense of ownership that students have towards our community.
The group decided that initiative would be to focus our community service efforts in Turner rather than outside the community. The group felt that if students can do work that helps improve their community and connect them to others who live here, they would feel a stronger sense of ownership and pride.
During the first semester, various student groups were able to perform several community service projects and activities within Turner. This was accomplished by coordinating with local neighborhood groups, such as Turner Community Connection, as well as local nonprofits. For this story, we've included highlights of some of the projects. Overall, it's been a very positive experience for the students involved! The district looks forward to continuing this initiative moving forward.
New Story Church Community Garden
Earlier this fall, New Story Church expressed a need for a community garden. This church has a canned and boxed food pantry that serves many Turner families each month, and they were wanting to install a community garden that they would plant and tend to. The intent is for the fresh vegetables harvested from the garden to go to their food pantry recipients. The THS boys soccer team volunteered to provide the labor to turn a grassy patch of land into the community garden space, complete with garden beds and mulch.
Elderbearies Luncheons at Turner Recreation Commission
This year, Elderbearies Luncheons for Turner senior citizens over the age of fifty returned after being paused during the pandemic. Students in the THS Culinary Program have been joining for the luncheons at Turner Recreation. In addition to bringing side dishes made in their classroom kitchen, the students come for conversation with the senior citizens. Additionally, for the December luncheon, the Turner Sixth Grade Academy choir attended to perform holiday carols. It was a joy-filled afternoon!
Normandy Park Playground
This winter, members of the Getty Grove neighborhood group reached out with a community service need. They had received a grant to spruce up and purchase new equipment for the Normandy Park Playground. The final part of the project was to spread mulch around the playground and they were hoping for some assistance. Members of the THS baseball and bowling teams offered to volunteer their time and spent a couple of hours finalizing the project. The upgrades looked great and the students were glad to be able to help create a better space for neighborhood children.
Senior Citizen Fall Yard Clean-Up
In coordination with Turner Community Connection and the Shepherd's Center, members of the THS wrestling team spent the Tuesday before Thanksgiving Break helping clean up leaves for senior citizens who were not able to do it themselves. They spent the afternoon raking and bagging up leaves at three houses. The senior citizens were incredibly appreciative of their help!
Do you have suggestions for community service projects? Contact Lauren Aiello, Director of Public Relations, at AielloL@TurnerUSD202.org.