VANDALIA — Hauling cut trees and clearing brush isn’t how most high school students spend their Sunday afternoons, but more than 100 Butler High School student athletes did just that on Sunday, Oct. 25 at the first Community Work Day.
Organized by Butler High School Assistant Principal Ryan Rogers, the students worked at the Art Park and at Helke Park. City of Vandalia Parks and Recreation Director Steven Clark said the students were able to complete more work than he had anticipated at both locations.
“The work completed will allow us to use our resources for other parks and recreation projects needing attention. The students should take a great deal of pride in the work accomplished at both sites,” Clark said.
Rogers says a “sense of pride” for the students was one of the goals when creating this event.
“The purpose of our Community Work Day program is to help bridge a positive connection between the school and our community,” said Rogers. “We believe strongly in providing an interactive environment that promotes a strong sense of pride in school and community. We also believe that in order for both Butler High School and our community to be successful, they both must support and help one another.”
At Helke Park, students were helping to clear bush and debris in the wooded area where a 9-hole disc golf course is being built. Ken Harbaugh, a member of the Dayton Disc Golf Association, says the students saved the city and his group two days of work preparing the course.
“I was amazed at the numbers that showed up to work, and the amount of work they accomplished in a short time. Also, how well behaved and the seriousness they attacked the task at hand, but still seemed to enjoy themselves with their friends,” Harbaugh said.
Assistant to the Vandalia City Manager Julie Trick says the service the students provided was “invaluable.”
“The saying ‘Many hands make light work’ comes to mind because the task the athletes completed – removal of honeysuckle and other invasive vegetation in a couple of our parks – is a task that would require the full dedication of every one of our facility maintenance team members for at least several days. With the help of the Butler Aviators, the daunting project was done in an afternoon,” Trick said.
While this event was a first of its kind, Rogers said it won’t be the last. He plans to have two Community Work Days each school year, one in the fall and one in the spring.
“In the future, we plan to reach out to Aullwood, local churches, local businesses, the Senior Citizen Center, the schools and various other entities to provide community service opportunities for our student athletes,” Rogers said.
Superintendent Brad Neavin says he’s proud of the number of student athletes who participated in the first event.
“These work days are a way for students to be reminded they are a part of a broader community; a community that values not only strong academics, but strong co-curricular activities,” said Neavin. “These events are a chance for our student athletes to give back to the community and to say thank you for the support we receive.”
The spring Community Work Day is planned for April.