Dirigo students take pride in community work

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Cliff Boynton remembers what a thrill it was to have high-schoolers come into the classroom or play with them during recess years ago. So when he had the chance as a sophomore under the community service program to do the same thing, he jumped at the idea.

“It helps people get involved in the community and is a good way to give back,” he said Friday morning at Dirigo Elementary School.

He and dozens of other Dirigo High School students were undertaking a variety of community service projects in several towns of Western Foothills Regional School Unit 10 all day under bright sunshine.

“I remember how much fun it was,” he said of his own elementary experience.

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Cliff and more than a dozen other sophomores spent most of the day at the school helping the teachers and children in the classroom, sharing lunch with them, or zipping down the slide on the playground.

During lunch, Caroline Burganbhal and Emily Pillsbury were chatting with first-graders. Earlier, Caroline had helped children in art class with their work, or helped the teacher clean up.

“I didn’t know community service was going to be so fast-paced,” Caroline said. “I didn’t think it would be so much fun. They see us and say, ‘Oh, boy, a high school student.’”

Other sophomores were providing free car washes at the rear of the Dixfield Town Office for any resident who wanted a shiny car.

Eddie Bean said he likes washing cars.

“This could be a great way for me to get a job,” he said.

Todd Fenstermacher, a local resident, was pleased that the spring dirt was being washed from his car.

“That’s something that is needed this time of year. This is a good thing for (the students) to do,” he said.

Special education technician Diana Jones said the guys washing the cars were awesome.

“They’ve been doing a great job,” she said. By noon, more than 30 cars had been washed.

Some students were cleaning up Greenwood Cemetery in Dixfield, helping the Peru firefighters, clearing trails in Carthage or Peru, or hard at work in several other places throughout the area.

At each site, a teacher or educational technician who are homeroom teachers were there to supervise.

Peggy Morse, a teacher at the high school, co-coordinated the annual event through the sophomore homeroom program, Cougar Paws.

The high school students helped devise a list of projects in which they could participate. The car wash and trail clearing were the two new community service projects this year, she said.

All Dirigo High School students must complete a series of community service projects prior to graduation. That service is part of their portfolio requirements.

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