Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 4, 2006
School's community service wins award
Father Michael Troy students gave their time, effort
"There is a sense that in giving, their self-esteem grows."
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
If you happen upon kids picking up litter or raking leaves near Father Michael Troy Junior High School in the weeks ahead, it's likely the work is being done for free.
Students at the three-year-old Millwoods school are required to perform nine hours of Christian community service or charitable acts throughout the school year that contribute to their final religious studies grade. The overall response of the nearly 400 students has been positive, says principal Helen Matsuba.
But what last year's crop did is remarkable.
"Services have to be done for anyone except immediate family and there can be no payment given, Matsuba said. "The students do many different things."
Before school let out in June, students had amassed 7,800 hours of community service, or 23 hours per student. They babysat or shovelled the snow off their neighbour's sidewalks. They held bake sales and breakfasts to raise money for Edmonton's Pilgrims Hospice, purchasing and donating items from the hospice's wish list prior to last Christmas.
Students had a slip of paper signed by the recipient confirming when the task was done and the number of hours of service performed. There was a half-hour minimum.
In recognition of the effort, Today's Parent magazine named Father Michael Troy School as one of three schools in Canada showing outstanding commitment to the community.
"This is all about a team working together with the students and staff, the parents and the parish," Matsuba said. "Our parent council is very active and always open to ways to improve our school."
Matsuba said other schools in the city have similar programs, although it is not anything mandated by Edmonton Catholic Schools. She says the students are glad to help in and around the school for Christian service hours.
Sharon Lesmeister nominated the school. "We have a hard working staff and I see the commitment of the children every day," said Lesmeister, secretary at Father Michael Troy. "I'd heard about the award through some friends so I decided to email the magazine."
Any student with 75 or more hours of volunteer service received a medallion during the year-end awards ceremony. Names of the top earners are put on a plaque.
Students also raised $2,500 for the Holy Childhood Association, $500 for the Cross Cancer Institute and more than $2,000 for the Pilgrim's Hospice along with donating items like bocci ball and croquet sets, a guitar and a water cooler. They also paid for hot lunches for the hospice residents.
Matsuba said there is a clear connection between collecting service hours and how a student does scholastically. "There is a sense that in giving, their self-esteem grows. They feel they are a better person and that feels good. And if they feel good, they learn more and do well.
"Success breeds success. The kids feel good about their positive Christian environment. They feel safe and welcomed here. It's a lot of little pieces put together that make a great Catholic school."