BY MATT MACKINDER
Clarkston News Staff Writer
The order of the day at Andersonville Elementary, March 6, was giving back to the community.
Students from Kindercub through fifth grade spent the day collecting and counting markers, making dog blankets and treats, painting flowerpots and birdhouses, making fleece blankets for senior citizens, and writing letters for locals that might need an extra smile during Project Spread Love and Warmth 2020, the school’s academic service learning (ASL) project.
“This day is a representative of the type of schools we have,” said Christine Rogers, Clarkston Community Schools ASL coordinator. “This is a chance for the kids to use their learning to really give back to the community in ways you wouldn’t think you would do during the school day.”
Rogers noted the project, sponsored by a grant from ITC Michigan, a subsidiary of ITC Holdings Corp., enables students to do “anything to brighten someone’s day.”
The blankets will be given to people in need at Neighbor for Neighbor, a food and supply bank in Springfield Township, she said.
Fifth-grade students a couple years ago wanted to spread the warmth as a class project. Andersonville Principal Kim Fletcher and AE ASL Coordinator Marissa Webner expanded the idea to every grade level, Rogers said.
“This gives the kids a chance to learn and serve,” she said.
In her position, Webner gets to see firsthand the effects of what giving back truly means in a community like Clarkston. Each school in the district has a liaison similar to Webner.
“We are there as a tool, as a resource, for the teachers in the building who would like to implement academic service learning into their classrooms,” she said. “We also have projects going on at the individual grade levels as well, like our second graders bring in members of the community and learn about the community, and that ties right into their curriculum. In third grade, we are writing books all about Andersonville and the school. We’ll give them to our Kindercub students when they come to Kindercub orientation.”
Getting the young kids to understand what it means to contribute to society, to give back, is the icing on the cake.
“That’s part of raising the whole child,” Rogers said. “Being able to teach them not only math and literacy and all of the skills they’re going to need to be successful businessmen or career people, but to give them the skills to be good people with empathy, compassion understanding how good it feels to help someone.”
“It’s incredibly important for students to see it doesn’t matter how young or old they are that they can make a huge impact and make a difference in lives of people all over our community,” Webner added. “This day is one of the highlights of my year. It’s actually one of the reasons why I wanted to become an educator, just to see all of our amazing students able to come together as a school family and do something so much bigger than us that impacts so many people.”