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South Point course combines giving with learning

SOUTH POINT — Students are using newly learned skills to serve their community as part of a new course at South Point High School that also allows them to explore potential careers.

Twenty-two students from 9th to 12th grade signed up for the inaugural Service Learning Class, which combines skills in sewing and food preparation with career exploration and philanthropy.

Family Consumer Science teacher Melinda Stevens, who has been teaching the subject once called home economics for 28-years, proposed and teaches the class.

“It’s a serve and learn class,” she said. It gives the kids an opportunity to see what they can do to help out the community. It’s really opened a lot of their eyes as far as volunteer service. Many of them didn’t know where to go or what opportunity they had.”

Students rotate through four “job” sites each semester, spending more than four weeks at each “position.”

Jobs have included sewing lap quilts for senior citizens at the Burlington-area Heartland Nursing Home, and knitting baby caps for Cabell Huntington’s neonatal unit, collecting nearly 90 boxes of toys, gifts, school supplies and personal items for Operation Christmas Child as well as gathering coats and knitting scarves for a local homeless shelter.

Later this week, the class will also deliver home-baked goods to the Ronald McDonald House in Huntington, W.Va.

Stevens said students are also required to research and write reports on two different careers every other week, which explore the career’s history, required skill sets and schooling as well as average salary and career paths.

Many of the jobs are in areas students have been exposed to due to volunteer work, she said.

Shana Adkins, 17, a senior, said the course has been one of her favorites. “I love it. I love doing community service,” she said, adding before enrolling she had volunteered before but not to the scale she is now.

She particularly has enjoyed collecting supplies for Operation Christmas Child and hopes to take the project with her to college at Wright State University, where she plans to study physical therapy.

“Knowing I can put a smile on all these kids faces, even if it is just 10 kids.” Adkins said. That makes my day. I would love to be able to go over there and deliver the Christmas boxes,” she said.

The course not only looks great on a college application, she said but it has helped her to grow as a person.

“It changes your thought on life. You really notice what you and others have done.

It has really opened up my eyes,” Adkins said.

Stevens said she has been pleased by students’ reception of the course and hopes the school will continue to offer it — albeit maybe as a semester class instead of a full-year course. That will allow more students to take it, she said.

Next year, the class will also try to create more community partners in order to better fill needs, Stevens said.

“I’m excited for the class I think it’s such a great thing to do. It allows them to serve more people than just themselves,” she said.