HVHS receives community service grant

By Julie Fann
star staff

Since January, Happy Valley High School students have been learning community service skills through federal grant money the school recently received from the Department of Education. David Hughes, assistant principal and author of the grant, said Monday he believes the "Learn and Serve" program is extremely beneficial for students.
   "I think it's one of the best programs we've ever had because if you go down there and watch the students teach these kids, you'd be impressed. It gives them the opportunity to serve the community and get a high school credit," he said.
   Approximately 50 HVHS students are participating in the program, which involves tutoring younger kids, volunteering at area fire departments and nursing homes, and assisting patients at Ronald McDonald House.
   The school receives $12,000 a year from the grant for up to three years. Federal education representatives perform site visits to make sure the program is running smoothly and to approve federal dollars for the next academic year.
   Hughes said funds are used to purchase necessary materials and provide stipends for Spanish teachers.
   According to information from Carter County Schools Superintendent, Dallas Williams, Happy Valley High School Service Learning is designed to allow students access to a variety of community resources.
   The central goal of the grant is to provide students with the opportunity to serve in the community, to learn civic values and to increase citizen responsibility in a democratic society.
   HVHS students tutor kids at Happy Valley Middle School, Happy Valley Elementary School and Central Elementary School.
   The focus is promoting literacy by purchasing children's books used in tutoring at-risk students. Students in senior English who participate as tutors in service learning are required to tutor a minimum of 30 minutes a day at one of the elementary schools.
   Paperback children's books at the student's level are given to the students in the elementary grades to keep. Each high school student becomes a reading tutor and arranges a time schedule with the elementary teacher that is workable. This program is designed to enhance what the elementary teacher in the classroom is teaching by extending student learning beyond the standard day.
   Advanced government students involved in service learning volunteer to teach lessons from the "We the People ... The Citizen and the Constitution" curriculum to elementary students, a student- driven initiative. The goal in using the curriculum is to promote civic competence and responsibility. PowerPoint presentations, which are made by the students, focus on knowledge of law, the Constitution, and political process. Activities include games and refreshments. Lesson plans and post-tests are also part of the curricula.
   The high school tutors will analyze and evaluate the project at the end of the school year in a written paper where they will justify how everyone involved benefited from the program. They will also analyze the reading progress of their particular group with emphasis given on basic reading skills.