Local high schoolers take on community service

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Photo courtesy Dave Bellina PSHS seniors celebrate the finished product after a work day at the frisbee golf course at Cloman Park.
Photo courtesy Dave Bellina
PSHS seniors celebrate the finished product after a work day at the frisbee golf course at Cloman Park.

By Stewart Bellina
Special to The PREVIEW

The juniors and seniors of Pagosa Springs High School (PSHS) recently participated in service projects with the intent of giving back to their community.

Said Principal Sean O’Donnell, “We want our students to take ownership of their community and become active citizens. One of the quickest ways to generate that kind of investment is through service.”

The students in 11th grade stayed on campus to create a landscape feature in the area near the end zone of the Golden Peaks Stadium, clean up the campus and redesign a set of stairs near the outdoor concession stand.

The 12th-graders headed out to Cloman Park to assist the Pagosa Disc Golf Club in its creation of alternate tee boxes so that they might begin to host tournaments locally.

It seems as though O’Donnell was accurate in his hopes, as junior advisory teacher Darcy DeGuise reported, “I think it gelled us as a junior advisory by creating something that has staying power. When the kids see it, maintain it, they can feel a sense of accomplishment and community.”

Meanwhile, the freshmen and sophomores of PSHS stayed on campus to complete their fall NWEA testing. In years past, all students would attend school as regularly scheduled and the administration would call out underclassmen in order to test. This disrupted the classes students were in and typically took several days to complete, thus losing days of effective classroom instruction for all grade levels. With the addition of the advisory program several years ago, O’Donnell saw an opportunity to engage students in a service learning opportunity while simultaneously reducing the disruption to the instruction of the students.

“Through advisory, time was set aside which supports students and teachers as they plan for events like this. that piece was huge, since we are asking more of our teachers who already have a heavy workload.”