Posted: Saturday, August 9th 2014 at 10:17am
Students get hands dirty learning valuable lessons
By Marc Eggers Staff
GAINESVILLE – Eighty students and nearly a dozen teachers found themselves in need of a shower and change of clothing after their first day of school last week. That’s because “sweaty and dirty” was part of the opening day lesson plan.
With a laugh Hannah Parker said, “Yeah, they’re filthy!” Parker is Director of Children and Youth Ministry for Good News at Noon on Davis Street in Gainesville.
“They are cleaning soot and dirt and mud, and they are having a great attitude about it,” she added.
Young offenders performing their community service hours is a common sight at the Good News shelter, but these youngsters (some as young as eleven years old) were NOT here under court order. Instead they were from a private school in Fulton County.
“We’re from Kings Ridge Christian School and every year we start out our school year with a service day,” explained chaperone and 7th grade teacher Heather King.
“We have contacts with a bunch of different ministries in the Atlanta metro area. We get plugged in all over the city,” King added.
She said that the school also had groups of students working at an Atlanta homeless shelter and helping with various service projects in Alpharetta while she and the forty middle-schoolers in her care journeyed to Gainesville. “We’re all spread out doing service.”
“Their (teachers) are really encouraging them to learn how to give back to their community as they grow towards leadership,” Parker said of the students as she directed two young girls towards another task waiting to be done.
Good News has plans afoot to develop a site adjacent to their current location into a youth complex, using donations and volunteer help as much as possible. Clearing that site and the old buildings it contains was today’s focus.
“It’s a part of the land expansion that Good News at Noon has taken on and we’ve adopted two-and-a-half acres with four structures. They’re working in what’s going to be the future gymnasium for the kids at Good News at Noon to play in,” Parker said.
And “working” was the apropos word. Sixth-grader Mason Dennis labored to load a wheelbarrow with debris and dirt swept from a storage area. “Do you ever work this hard at home?” I asked.
Barely looking up from his shovel he replied, “Sometimes.”
When asked why he was working so hard, he explained, “To help the homeless and everybody here.”
Lesson learned, Mason; you get an “A”. Now keep it up for the rest of your life and everyone will be blessed.
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