Flooding Ely with service

Ely students get rave reviews as they give back to community

by Tom Coombe
The books were put away, tests went on hold and Ely middle and high school students left their classrooms on Sept. 27.
Yet it was a learning experience nonetheless.
The school’s first-ever “Flood the Community” initiative got rave reviews, as about 300 students spread out across town to give back in a community service component of the high school’s Fall Homecoming Week.
For several hours, Ely students did everything from sweeping and pulling weeds to general clean up and washing cars as part of a coordinated effort to say “thank you” to the community at large.
The effort appeared to be well received on all fronts.
“It went really well,” said Megan Anderson, principal at Memorial High School. “Kids came back to school with big smiles on their faces, and I had several people text me that it was great to see the flood of red walking down the street together.”
Starting in the morning and continuing into the early afternoon, Ely students ventured off in all directions to complete various projects.
More than 30 high school sophomores stopped at Ely Northland Market, where they impressed owner Donna Richards.
“The kids cleaned and swept the parking lot and cleaned up all around the edge of the parking lot,” said Richards. “They seemed to enjoy doing something and I know they were heading to another place after they left ours.”
While the sophomores were at Ely Northland Market, juniors teamed up with Northwoods Partners to rake leaves and do lawn care at several homes.
On campus, the seniors set up a free car wash and cleaned about 30 cars, and there were groups who cleaned and assisted at the recreation center, Semer’s Park and Trezona Trail.
Even the sixth graders got in on the activity, making welcome bags for Vermilion Community College students.
“It was really appreciated,” said Anderson. “I know Donna at Northland Market brought out a tray of donuts, but this was our time to give back.”
Anderson started the project in part to give back to businesses and the community, to thank them for their generosity and assistance when various school-related groups and teams seek financial or other support.
It coincided with Fall Homecoming Week, and plans are in the works to continue the initiative later this year.
“The comments from some of our teachers was ‘when we do this next time,’ as they suggested ways to improve or do things a little better,” said Anderson.
Some indoor projects or perhaps snow shoveling assistance may be in the works this winter, and it’s likely the students will go out en masse some time during the spring, as well.