McDowell High School juniors and seniors participated in community service projects as part of the Peer Group Connection Service Day. The theme for the day, which was held on a recent Thursday, was “We rise by lifting others.”

One hundred and fifty students went out into the community150 students for service projects including tutoring at West Marion Elementary School, packing meals at the Senior Center, painting nails and decorating pumpkins at Autumn Care, painting a mural at the Department of Social Services, painting bathrooms at East McDowell Middle School, serving food at Clinchfield United Methodist Church, making blankets for chemotherapy patients, carving pumpkins and sending care packages to families overseas.

Junior and senior peer group leaders include Trey Beverly, Allyson Blackwelder, Lorene Bristol, Abbie Brooks, Abby Calhoun, Coby Conley, Lea Conner, Travis Corpening, Bailey Elliott, Cole England, McKenna Foster, Brooklyn Friesland, Alexis Good, Connor Good, Kansas Johnson, Ariel Lineberger, Carlos Lopez, Leah McCracken, Skyler McKinney, Kaila Montegue, Charlie Moore, Madison Ogle, Sydney Pike, Tyler Price, Issac Robinson, Skylar Rock, Addie Sanders, Hannah Shelton, Jennifer Smelcer, Eavan Smith, Emory Sprouse, Beverly Valdez, Rose Vang, Ava Widman, Dezi Williams and Tyler Young..

Stakeholders who support PGC include Tommy Cox, Jennifer Kinneger, Adrian Early, Angie Allison, Debra Rector, Edwin Spivey, Glenda Glenn, Chip Cross, Natalie Gouge, Eric Cole, Kori Elliott, Lora Atkins, and Ashley Bartlett.

“Peer Group Connection is a grant funded peer mentoring program by the Center for Supportive Schools (CSS) and the Department of Education. The program is set up as a class at MHS, taught by two faculty advisers, Jennifer Kinneger and myself, during first and second period,” said PGC faculty advisor Tommy Cox. “This class teaches leadership and group facilitation skills to high school juniors and seniors in order to create a supportive environment for freshmen. These junior and senior peer leaders are paired with groups of five to seven freshmen, and facilitate outreach sessions each week during the fall semester, to promote school spirit, positive school-community relations, and strengthen relationships among students throughout the school.”

For Service Day, the PGC stakeholder team, reached out to community organizations and schools, who gave us ideas for projects at different locations. Those options were presented to 11th and 12th grade leaders who in turn presented the ideas to their assigned ninth grade student groups.

Student groups then chose the project they were most interested in and planned how they would implement their project at their chosen location. On the day of Service Day, PGC Stakeholders drove buses to the various locations and supervised students as they implemented their project for two hours.

Community members provided most of the supplies for student projects. Students then returned to MHS to report to each other what they learned and the impact of each of their chosen projects.”

“The opportunity for our students to experience service learning is wonderful. It is so important that they understand the value in serving others. PGC is a program to help our ninth graders transition into high school and teach them skills to be successful during their four years at MHS,” said Kinneger. “It is a blessing to get to work every day with such an amazing group of leaders who invest their time into mentoring our ninth graders. They want to enhance our school and know that starts with our students.”

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