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Middle school service projects reinforce community

DeKALB – Old prom dresses. Pop tops. Gently used stuffed animals. 

These are some of the things DeKalb students at Huntley and Clinton Rosette middle schools have been donating to benefit local charities. 

For the past month, students at Huntley and Clinton Rosette middle schools have been working on various community service projects.

Holly Wesson, a special education teacher at Clinton Rosette, said the students took the lead on their different projects.

“The kids are coming up with creative ideas to give back to the community,” Wesson said.

The students devised the service projects within their advisory periods – a class that meets once a week to fulfill state-mandated social and emotional learning.

Wesson’s advisory period will be donating dresses and other formal business attire to Northern Illinois University’s Women’s Resource Center for the center’s Project Prom. Project Prom is a clothing drive the center hosts in which used dresses and suits are given to local high school students.

Wesson said half of her students liked the idea, while the other half wanted to do a bake sale.

“They will be selling cookies and juice to community members who will be dropping off dresses,” Wesson said. The items will be collected from 3 to 6 p.m. May 14 at Clinton Rosette.

Clinton Rosette counselor Jen Gammelgaard said the advisory service projects teach students how to contribute and be a part of the community-at-large.

“Part of being a member of our community is learning about the larger community,” Gammelgaard said.  

At Huntley Middle School, students can approach different tables in their cafeteria and donate stuffed animals that will be given to needy children, or pop tops that will be donated to help the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.

Not every student is donating materials, though. Rocky Mills, a seventh-grade student at Huntley, said she’ll be picking up garbage inside and outside the school.

“You keep it clean so it looks beautiful,” Mills said.

Kelly Wuchte, a special education teacher at Huntley, has been helping her students – and the school, by extension – become more aware of people who have autism. Her hope is that students take this knowledge and act on it later.

“The more they know and are aware, the more they can make systematic changes,” Wuchte said.

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