Crystal Lake South High School students were very busy this past year, not just with their studies, but also working on their required Service Learning project.
For the past three years, South administrators, teachers and students have been testing out the Service Learning program, which was designed to make connections between what the students are learning in class and the real world, South Principal Marsha Potthoff said.
"This is the year when we have to review the program, and we determined we're going to keep it," Potthoff said.
"The teachers felt the program was now embedded in the curriculum...the vast majority felt it was helping their students, they felt they were making a connection to their students, and felt the students were making a connection with the real world."
South's Service Learning Program is based on the national service learning program called Learn and Serve. South staff members used many of the same procedures and principles from Serve and Learn to ensure their program fit with the curriculum, Potthoff said.
Every South student and teacher participates in Service Learning. Students are given a few choices and pick the project they want to work on. Each project is tied to a specific class students took in the fall semester, be it English, Industrial Arts or geography.
From there, the groups determine how they will see their projects to completion. Some hold fundraisers, some get to work using their own artistic talents or skills.
In all, there were 72 individual projects during the 2011-2012 school year. Examples of some of the projects included the Industrial Arts group which built a brick paver sidewalk at the back of the school, where the handicapped students enter the school, located 1200 S. McHenry Ave. in Crystal Lake.
Through a physical education project, students held a co-op fundraiser with Jersey Mike's. With the money they raised, they bought and donated dog food to any area animal shelter.
A group made literacy booklets for children in Costa Rica, and the students hand-delivered the booklets themselves when the visited the country over spring break, Potthoff said.
More examples are featured in the Crystal Lake South Service Learning video produced by Justin Miedwieg.