VHS students, staff will host Tanager Volunteer Day Sept. 14

Vermillion High School will be hosting its second annual Tanager Volunteer Day as a part of its Tanager Week festivities on Tuesday, Sept. 14. As a result of its overwhelming success last year, Vermillion High School students, staff, and community volunteers are finalizing plans for this year's community service event.

During its inaugural year in 2009, the entire VHS population and staff plus USD volunteers donated time and energy to complete a wide variety of work projects in the Vermillion community. Student Eric Storm reflected, "I helped at the Senior Citizen Center, and I think we really made a big difference. We cut down trees, hauled branches, raked the yard, stacked fire wood, cleaned windows, cleared out gardens, trimmed branches, and cleared out a shed that was full of old scrap wood."

A sampling of other work projects completed last year included cleaning up the Missouri River shoreline, sharing time with individuals from SESDAC, baking for after school children's programs, washing fire trucks, landscaping for local service organizations, and cleaning at local churches.

Senior Shelby Covill commented after completing the event last year, "I learned a lot from this, like how easy it is to just help out a little bit. If you  are with your friends helping out other people you can have a lot of fun and feel good about yourself and what you did that day for your community."

The event is a component of the Teachers As Advisors program at the high school which is in its fourth year of existence. This advisory program, entitled LIFE: Lessons in Future Exploration, meets twice a month. Each high school teacher is assigned to a group of approximately 15 students which stay together during the students' four years at VHS.

Aspects of the curriculum are outlined in "High School 2025", a South Dakota Department of Education initiative that focuses on "relevance, relationships, rigor, and results" and prepares students for success in a global economy. LIFE Advisory at VHS includes lessons on study skills, responsible behavior, volunteerism, and career planning.

The service outreach is also an active extension of the Vermillion School District's mission statement: "To empower all students to maximize their success in our global community." One goal of the Tanager Volunteer Day is to begin locally, encouraging students to be positive, contributing members of the community around them.

Thirty high school LIFE groups will partner with USD students this year during a full day of service, expanded from last year's half-day event. In addition to high school and USD students, organizers of Tanager Volunteer Day are encouraging parents, business leaders, and others members of the community to be inspired by the work of the VHS students and join them in giving back to the surrounding area.

As student Courtney Eidem commented after her volunteer work last year, "I learned that many places in our community need our help to keep things going and running — meaning that people could be volunteering more often to help these people and businesses out."

VHS is currently seeking organizations, businesses, and individuals who are interested in having service work completed. Because of the quickly approaching deadline, interested persons are encouraged to contact VHS as soon as possible. Student work groups will be comprised of approximately 15 members or larger and will do outdoor and indoor work from 8:45 a.m to 3:15 p.m. Each student group will be advised by a high school teacher and a University student.

Those needing work done or anyone willing to join the Tanager Volunteer Day in any way should contact Lenni Billberg at 677-7035 or by email at lenni.billberg@k12.sd.us

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