Mechanicville Elementary School isn’t just training students for the next grade.
“We’re trying to create community-minded adults,” said school Principal Stephen Marra, referring to a service club they offer for about half of their fifth-graders. “They’re kind of like a mini-Rotary.”
The club meets weekly with a teacher and tackles different volunteer projects, like cleaning up a nature trail, making posters to advertise events, picking up trash in the school yard or anything else to help out at the school. Students must meet certain requirements, like good grades, in order to be allowed in the club. Marra said the club is very popular, with a new crop vying to participate every year.
This year two student teachers, who are working on their master’s degrees from Troy’s Sage Graduate School, beat the club to the punch on one of its annual projects. On Tuesday, the fifth-grade class of student teacher Stephanie Cash and the second-grade class of student teacher Katherine Murphy planted about three dozen flowers in front of the school.
Cash and Murphy were in luck with the final project of their graduate studies, which was designing a service-learning project to demonstrate the importance of giving back to the community.
It was a perfect fit, said Cash, noting the existence of the school’s service club.
In order to identify a project, she said, they consulted with Marra and their mentoring teachers. Cash, who lives in Wilton, added that her 27 students helped assess what they could do.
The project they settled on was the sprucing up of the front of the school by planting flowers donated by Hewitt’s.
The fifth-grade class prepared the ground, which included some weeding, and then on Tuesday they worked with the second-grade class to plant the flowers.
Before planting the flowers, 10-year-old Hayden Pierce said they used the computer lab to research how to do it. “I thought it was going to be really hard, but then once we started outside it turned into a blast.”
Josh Germain, 10, said it was fun to work with the younger students because they were so enthusiastic.
Cash felt like they were successful in instilling the long-term lesson of the importance of giving back, but she said the finished product is also something the students are proud of.
“They’re excited that every time they walk back into the school they can see evidence of their work,” she said.