Seniors don’t mind service-work sweat


Dave Weatherwax/The Herald
Southridge High School seniors Calvin Miller, left, and Zach Barrett used their shovels as air guitars to play along to music that blared from a nearby SUV on Monday morning in the parking lot of Huntingburg City Park. The students were waiting for empty wheelbarrows to fill with gravel being used to cover ground below League Stadium’s grandstand. Members of the school’s Class of 2011 performed service work Monday and today to make up for school days missed because of bad weather.


Herald Staff Writer

HUNTINGBURG — Zach Barrett stood on top of a rock pile next to League Stadium on Monday, pushing the gravel down the sides of the small hill and closer to his three classmates.

Country and rock music blared from a nearby SUV, and a couple of the quad sang along as they shoveled rock into waiting wheelbarrows, using their shovels as air guitars once in a while.

The wheelbarrows were picked up by other sweat-glistened classmates, who rolled them underneath the grandstand and dumped the gravel on the soft brown ground. As they rolled the wheelbarrows away, more Southridge boys spread the rock on the ground with rakes.

It was tiresome work in the sun. A light breeze blew through, but it didn’t keep the guys from sweating. Still, no one complained.

“I’d rather do this than sit in class,” said Zach, 18 and a Southridge High School graduate as of Friday.

Southridge High School’s Class of 2011 worked in parks, fields and offices Monday and today. The goal of the students’ service was to make up for school days missed this past winter because of bad weather.

Southwest students missed eight days this school year. Many of those days were made up through the built-in makeup days the Southwest Dubois School Board scheduled into the school calendar. Normally, those days would be sufficient; many years, not all of the built-in makeup days are needed.

But they weren’t enough this year. Students still had to make up another four days. So instead of the school year ending Thursday of last week, students are attending until Wednesday.

While the other grades at the high school took their finals this week, the Class of 2011 worked outside the school.

“We’re doing this for our community,” Corey Mathias, 18, said as he raked rocks. “It’s really great to help out.”

“And,” Alberto Reyes, 18, said with a grin, “we can work on our tan.”

They will return to school Wednesday to give Assistant Principal Kelly Murphy a note signed by the supervisor on duty for their service as well as a paragraph they wrote about how the service impacted them.

“The fact is, to expect them to graduate and get their diploma on Friday and then come back the following week for community service was ridiculous,” Murphy said.

Seniors took their finals Wednesday and Thursday, prior to Friday’s commencement ceremony at Memorial Gym.

“We really have everything planned for the week of graduation,” Murphy said. “We want to have the seniors take their finals and get their grades in. That way, if a student is in danger (of not graduating), we know that beforehand.”

The Southridge boys were glad to be outside the school walls. “We wouldn’t be doing anything right now anyway,” said Austin Rasche, 18. “We’d probably just sit in a class and watch movies or something. This is more interesting.”

The recent graduates worked at locations including Holland Park, the Dubois County 4-H Fairground, Huntingburg City Hall and Tri-Cap in Jasper. Ten boys worked at the stadium.

“This area (underneath the grandstand) looks so messy,” said Huntingburg Parks Board President Jeff Summers, who was supervising as well as working. “People throw trash under here and don’t think about it. We thought that if we cleaned it out and put rock under here, it may help.”

Broc Roesner, 18, said the students got to choose where they would work. He chose the stadium because the school’s baseball team uses the field for the season. “We want it to look nice,” he said.

The parks department appreciated the help. “These guys are doing great, working hard,” Summers said. “They aren’t messing around.”

Guidance counselor Brian Uebelhor, who worked alongside the graduates, said the school tries to have the students do community service each year. It just so happened that the school was able to have the service count for makeup days this year, he said.

“At least the kids next year won’t have to do this (particular project),” Austin said, wiping his brow before he took a swig of his drink.

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