Instead of sitting in class on a recent Thursday, Coginchaug Regional High School seniors met up at local parks for their first-ever group service day.
The roughly 125 seniors gathered at Allyn Brook Park on May 23 for a donut-fueled start, before splitting off into groups to tackle cleaning up Peckham Park, the Middlefield Dog Park and Brewster Elementary School trails.
“We really wanted to form an activity for our senior class to come together one last time, to give back to the community that helped us for years and years,” said senior Anna Dipentima.
Seniors cleaned up litter, painted over graffiti and cleared out invasive species in an effort to beautify the parks.
Dipentima was one of five seniors that spent the school year organizing the volunteer day. The other students include Elizabeth Collins, Chloe Matus, Kelsey O’Sullivan and Emma Bournival.
The group is part of the Making a Difference in the Community senior experience option, which also allowed them to volunteer at organizations like Twin Maples Healthcare Facility, the Meriden Humane Society and an organization that provides resources for children with disabilities.
Class advisor and history teacher Amy Jacques-Purdy said the group brainstormed ways to get the entire senior class involved in helping out their two towns, Durham and Middlefield.
“This is a great way to give back to the community that's supported them for 13 years of their education,” Jacques-Purdy said.
She said the school district’s administration has been completely supportive of their efforts, and the selectman of both towns kept in touch with what the towns needs.
The town of Middlefield provided free lunch to the students at Peckham Park when they were finished.
Jacques-Purdy said she hoped the service day would be an opportunity to build on the students’ camaraderie and teamwork by accomplishing jobs together for the benefit of their communities.
“A lot of them do service anyway, but doing it together as a large group, as a class, I think kind of brings them together one last time and it's giving back specifically to the towns that have supported them,” Jacques-Purdy said.
The students hope that “Senior Service Day” will become an annual event.