In Woodstock, a day for service
Nearly 300 Woodstock High School and Woodstock North High School seniors spent a portion of last week immersing themselves in projects throughout the community.
Since 1994, seniors have taken part in the annual Senior Service Day tradition. This year, the seniors could be found working on a total of 21 different projects.
Jennifer Dillon was chosen to head up the service projects at WHS. Having served as president of National Honor Society, Dillon was no stranger to leadership opportunities.
“I was excited [to be named the head of Senior Service Day],” Dillon said enthusiastically. As the head of the service day, she oversaw a total of about 180 student volunteers.
Upon being named to the position in January, Dillon assembled a team of students who could serve as project leaders. She then collected ideas from the selected project leaders, met with the city of Woodstock and worked with other Woodstock School District 200 school leaders to form a list of potential projects.
“I felt this was a good opportunity for our class to show off our true abilities,” Dillon said. She added that Senior Service Day gave her classmates the opportunity to show their heart and respect for the community. “Students care. A lot of people [don’t recognize that].”
Each year, the students develop a theme in conjunction with the service day. Dillon said the theme chosen by the Class of 2012 was “Leaving Our Mark.” The students who took part in the service day have their hand prints incorporated into a mural at WHS, as has been the tradition for each senior class.
Dillon thanked all the students who took part in the service day for their hard work and said the project leaders deserve a lot of credit for keeping the students on task.
Brooke Marshall was one of those leaders. Marshall led a group of 16 students who removed invasive species from property near the McHenry County Soil and Water Conservation building. Marshall said her group worked together as a team to complete the job and said that cooperative spirit is emblematic of the Class of 2012 as a whole.
“We have great diversity, but we all get along,” she said. “This was a chance for us to get together and enjoy each other’s company one last time.”
After the service day, the students celebrated their accomplishments with a picnic at Emricson Park. Senior Nate Hams was in charge of organizing the picnic. He had to shop for the food, supply activities and round up enough grills and grillers to make the event a success.
“This is a great class,” Hams said during the picnic, echoing Marshall’s comments about the diversity of the group. “It’s just a great group of people.”
John Headley, a WHS teacher who serves as the faculty leader of the project along with Bill Donato, agreed.
“They’re an amazingly giving group and a fun-loving group,” he said, calling them respectful as well. “I’m glad the community got to see them in action [during the service day].”
Last year, Woodstock North High School’s first senior class carried on the tradition WHS established 18 years ago by organizing its own Senior Service Day. This year, WNHS hosted its second annual service day, building a history of its own.
Jeremy Schaaf, assistant principal, said students clamored for a service day last year. Staff, who had previously taught at WHS, also voiced interest in starting a similar program at WNHS.
About 115 members of the WNHS Class of 2012 took part in a total of eight projects.
“This is one of the last organized events as a class besides graduation,” Schaaf said. “It really is a student-led activity.”
Heather Sitkie volunteered to help clean the WNHS grounds, which included weeding and putting down mulch.
“We’re a really interesting group of people,” Sitkie said of her class. “I really like the fact that [Senior Service Day] allows us to give back to the community.”
Collin Morris, a senior who has taken part in all theater performances at WNHS, volunteered with WNHS students at the Judith Svalander School of Ballet in Crystal Lake. The group helped clean out a nearby alley as well as complete some tasks inside the facility.
“We just wanted to help this supporter of the fine arts,” Morris said.
Asked to sum up the personality of the class, Morris said he and his classmates are driven.
“I think we’re a lively class,” he said. “I think we’re spirited.”