Students Russell Haines and River Wilson with a few of the many bails of hay they stacked on community outreach day. submitted photo

REGION — Last October Telstar High School students took part in the schools first community outreach day.

The day started with students arriving and choosing what type of job they wanted to do (selections went by grade level). Some groups cleaned buses, gardens or properties, others aided senior citizens with technology and several groups went to CPS and provided help in and out of the classrooms.

“It was one of the best days for student attendance in history,” Dean of Telstar students John Eliot said.

According to Eliot, only two students were absent for the day of service.

Chadbourne Tree Farms, Bethel Rotary, Bethel Historical Society and Crescent Park School were a few of the many places and organizations that received student help.

Two of the people who benefited from the students work were part of the Handy Neighbor Program. Bethel resident Pat Harris was one of those recipients.

“We were very grateful to have been a part of  it. I loved having them at the house,” Harris said. We felt very good about the amount of work that got done, and they would have been willing to continue if they had more time. I hope that this activity becomes an annual event.”

Students stacked wood and hay for Harris and her sister.

The Handy Neighbor Program, which is is part of the Age Friendly Community Initiative (AFCI), is a partnership between AFCI and The Telstar Interact Club, where students help older adults with outdoor/physically demanding tasks. People seeking an extra hand can contact the Handy Neighbor Program by calling 207-824-4444.

Newry resident William Andrews also witnessed the students hard work firsthand.

“Four students and a teacher arrived, and in less than an hour and a half they had stacked four chords of wood,” Andrews said. “They were pleasant and efficient and did just what I asked of them. It’s a great service for which I’m very grateful.”

“AFCI has really made a commitment to provide more inter-generational opportunities,” AFCI President Nancy Davis.

Andrews added that for most of the fall he had not had much luck finding someone to stack his wood.

In the afternoon students returned to Telstar and learned more about organizations/groups in the area searching for the type of work they did.

“We want to get their information to the kids. We want them to establish contacts,” Eliot said.

Eliot also said that next year he expects there will be more projects available for students to partake in.

All students earned six hours of community service by participating in the community outreach day.

Students need to amass a minimum of 40 community service hours over their four years of high school to graduate. Many have already surpassed 40, a few have eclipsed 100, and one student has racked up more than 280 hours.

“We cannot give them all their hours and we don’t want to, either,” Eliot said.

One of the major goals of this service day is for students to take the initiative to continue doing similar work like this moving forward, whether it being joining the schools interact club or becoming involved with one of the numerous organizations in town.

Considering the success of the community outreach day, Eliot said the school is considering organizing a spring clean up day.

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