From a Hastings HOP to a Jones Lap for Lunch, Upper Arlington middle school students kicked off a year of service learning by clearing brush at Alum Creek, creating garden art, serving lunch at Life Care Alliance and running laps to feed the homeless.

From a Hastings HOP to a Jones Lap for Lunch, Upper Arlington middle school students kicked off a year of service learning by clearing brush at Alum Creek, creating garden art, serving lunch at Life Care Alliance and running laps to feed the homeless.

Hastings Middle School sent 700 students into the community on the Hastings HOP - Hastings Outreach Program - on Aug. 31.

"All of our students and staff went out to serve the community on that day," school counselor Catherine Shapiro said.

Jones Middle School's Service Learning Day was Sept. 12, with students running laps on the school track in Laps for Lunch, attending a service fair or creating necklaces to benefit the Bolivian Children's Fund.

"The day serves as a springboard for grade-level teams to investigate, prepare and plan for the service-learning that will happen throughout the year," said Molly Miely, service-learning building leader. "It serves to drive instruction and meet real world needs."

Hastings Middle School

Shapiro said the Hastings HOP is based on student curriculum.

"All of the seventh-grade locations had to do with environmental science, so students helped to clear and rebuild areas at Alum Creek, Whetstone, Indian Village and Shepherd's Corner," Shapiro said. "Our sixth-graders stayed local and worked on school grounds or within our local parks, because in social studies classes, they talk about how communities are formed."

She said the sixth-graders made garden art by creating steppingstones from beads and concrete for the school courtyard and to benefit a cystic fibrosis program. They also painted flowerpots and birdhouses.

Eighth-graders traveled to local sites that deal with hunger and the elderly, she said.

"The eighth-graders worked with LifeCare Alliance and the Meals-on-Wheels program," Shapiro said. "The students served lunch in the Life Care Alliance dining center and interacted with their clients.

"They also had the opportunity to make blizzard boxes to deliver to people if there is a power outage or if winter weather means Meals-on-Wheels meals can't be delivered," she said.

Shapiro said students reflected on the day's activities by working on posters.

"The students wrote about how great it was to learn from people older than they are who have many stories to share or how thankful they were to rebuild parts of Alum Creek and Indian Village so that wildlife can prosper," she said.

She said all students and teachers work on service projects throughout the school year.

"One of the things that we believe very strongly is that students learn about themselves best outside of the classroom," Shapiro said. "They have the opportunity to put their 21st-century skills to use to learn about communication and teamwork and problem-solving during a real life opportunity."

Jones Middle School

Miely said the major goal for Service Learning Day is "to kick off the service learning that will happen at Jones throughout the year."

"Service learning is high on the Upper Arlington strategic plan," she said. "Activities are aligned to the curriculum to make it a high-quality day for all, with a focus on each curricular area at some point for all students."

She said Laps for Lunches was held at the school track.

"After each lap was completed, the students stopped by a table filled with donations and selected one item, such as a Capri Sun drink, a granola bar or fun fruits, to donate for our Packing for the Streets program," she said. "Each year, the students pack 100 meals every other week that are then delivered to the homeless population in downtown Columbus."

During Laps for Lunches, students earned more than 3,000 items to include in the meals during this coming school year, Miely said.

Upper Arlington High School senior Ashley Williams was a special guest during the day, to help students make necklaces to benefit the Bolivian Children's Fund. Williams has raised more than $1,000 for the fund by creating necklaces from hemp, fair-trade wooden beads and newspaper.

"Ashley will sell the necklaces for $10 each and the proceeds will help build an orphanage in Bolivia," Miely said. "She will continue this project with Jones students through a service club and more necklaces will be made."

Representatives from community agencies such as the Heart to Heart Food Pantry, Open Shelter, Habitat for Humanity, Mid-Ohio Foodbank, LifeCare Alliance, Hands On Central Ohio, Nationwide Children's Hospital, Riverside John J. Gerlach Center for Senior Health and Worthington United Methodist Church also came to school to present opportunities at a service fair.

"Some were presenters at the service fair and some helped with activities," Miely said.

The day ended with a "World Cafe-style" discussion, she said.

"Students were in groups of about eight at tables with a poster and markers," Miely said. "At the top of the poster is one reflection question, such as 'How does one person make a difference?' The students wrote their responses to the question then rotated to a new table and a new question."

Other reflections on the day included having eighth-graders write on a pillar made of chalk paint and seventh-graders inscribe messages in empty bowls to prepare for an Empty Bowls event.