Greenbrier High School students have logged a lot of time behind their desks this year, but they've also put in hours of community service.
Recently, a group of 94 Greenbrier High students raised about $17,000 - more than doubling their total from last year - participating in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. The event was May 10-11 at the school.
Julie Tollison, the community income manager for the American Cancer Society, said the Greenbrier students as a group have raised the most amount of money this year. Overall, the 80 teams involved in the Relay for Life event at Greenbrier raised $185,000, as compared to $140,000 last year.
Among the students participating, there were some National Honor Society members, who are required to do service projects, and some advanced placement biology students. But many of the students were from Judy Teasley's civics class where they are required to complete a Citizenship In Action project as part of their grade.
"I think it's wonderful that she's fostering volunteerism and encouraging her students to give back to their community," Tollison said. "Many of them had such a fun time and found it so rewarding they'll want to continue to do it, whether it's for a grade or not."
Teasley began requiring students to perform community service hours three years ago.
"The concept of service learning is a concept that's been around for awhile, but the research is finally showing that this is a good thing to do," she said. "Not only do the children get out into the community, but it also gets them involved in community issues, makes them aware of the types of situations they'll be voting on as citizens, taxpayers and parents."
Relay for Life was just one of the many options students had to complete those service hours. Many of those students were able to recruit other students to pay the $10 entry fee and raise the minimum $100 required to participate in the event.
"It kind of branched out from there," Teasley said. "Because so many of them were doing one thing, it made a huge impact."
During the relay, students formed teams of 10. One of the teams was walking around the track at all times, "so they were alternately eating, sleeping and walking for 13 hours," Teasley said.
This is the fourth year students from the school have participated in the event. The first year, they raised a little more than $1,500, the second year they raised approximately $3,500 and last year they raised more than $7,000.
"I don't know if we can double it next year," Teasley said. "That's a tall order, but it's a worthy goal."
Last week, Teasley's students were earning the other 40 percent of their Citizenship In Action grade by presenting their work to the class. Many showed Power Point presentations with pictures documenting their service hours - working at the Golden Harvest Food Bank, soup kitchens, cleaning the old jail for the Historical Society and working at a middle school music festival.
But for many, their service meant more than a grade.
"It was very moving when the cancer survivors walked around," student Nathan Klose said. "There was one woman and she was crying because everyone was clapping for her. It was then that I realized I raised all that money for all these cancer survivors. I really helped out and it felt really good."
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