On the morning of Nov. 3, Bangor Middle/High School students in grades 6-12 took some time away from their studies to participate in various community service activities around their community.
The Bangor School District has been hosting Community Service Day for over five years now. In the past, students have visited nursing homes and other businesses to be of service, but because of the coronavirus the work crews stayed outside doing what they could to help.
“As things come up and evolve, we adapt and change what we do as well,” said Principal Rick Muellenberg.
One group washed windows and trimmed shrubs at the nursing home in Bangor, other groups raked leaves at the local cemeteries, churches and private homes, others cleaned up garbage from parks and trails, and some cleaned school grounds.
Some students stayed at the school to make decorations and cards for several local nursing home facilities.
“It’s a great opportunity to give back to the community that supports us so much,” Muellenberg said. “We’re all one community. To me it feels like there isn’t enough we can do to give back.”
Muellenberg would like to do more community service days, but he said it’s tough to do while trying to coordinate so many students with limited outdoor opportunities. He is contemplating the idea of starting another day of service in the spring.
Muellenberg also feels that it’s obviously the school district’s responsibility to offer a good education to the children in the communities of Bangor and Rockland, but there are so many other things the district should do as well.
“As a school district, we have to play our part in the community too,” Muellenberg said. “We can’t always just ask for this and that and not give something in return.”
The district has faced some difficulties when trying to get people to say they want the kids to rake or pick up trash or wash windows. Muellenberg attributes it to people not wanting to ask for help.
Next year, he plans to reach out to the local churches in hopes it will get the word out that the kids are willing and able to clean up the yards of those who aren’t able to do it themselves.
Muellenberg said cleaning yards helps the students take pride in their community. “We’re trying to instill in them that this is their community and what it looks like reflects back on them,” he said.
Sophomore Ella Janisch and her group helped raked leaves at yards throughout Bangor and a local church. “It feels good to give back and I like to feel helpful,” she said.
Bangor students are required to complete 60 hours of community service before the end of their senior year in order to be eligible to graduate. Administration allows the high school students to put Community Service Day hours toward the requirement, however, according to Muellenberg, many of them do not.
“So many of the kids have their hours completed by sophomore year because they do a lot more volunteering than they think that they do,” he said. “The kids just don’t think of it as community service.”
Muellenberg said the staff and students want to be good stewards of the community and show their thanks by giving a little something back.
Senior Joey Anderson went to Mulder Health Care Facility, a nursing home in West Salem, where his crew worked on washing windows and cleaning up the yard a little bit.
“They appreciated it and it gets us out of school for the day, which is an added bonus,” Anderson said. “I like to give back to the community that I live in. I kind of want to stick around these parts, so I want to preserve it for a long time.”
Anderson added that since he is able bodied, he wants to help those who aren’t in hopes that someday someone will do the same for him.
“It’s a very giving community. We’re all in this together and helping each other out is important,” Muellenberg said. “It’s important for our kids to see that and carry that on.”
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