Give any group of middle school students minimal direction to an activity and you will end up with either: a) confusion, b) creative ideas, c) mass chaos or d) all of the above. I know the go-to choice for an unknown answer is usually B, but in this case the answer was D.
Who: Rogers and Bentonville Primetime (6th-8th grade)
When: Spring Break 2012
Where: Center for Non-Profits at St. Mary's
Mission: Sort over 200 bags of food, collected from various neighborhoods around Rogers and Bentonville, into distinct categories.
After being divided into two groups, our directions to the students were to sort the food. That’s it—Sort the food. After about a minute of confused looks and questions that we refused to answer, the students were charged to take action. For the minimal direction given, the students did a great job at creating a system for sorting the food. However, in lieu of our time constraint and tight schedule, we had to intervene and give a bit more direction. Our direction was proposed in the form of this question:
When you go to Wal-Mart looking for pasta, where do you go? Do you go to the box aisle? Or do you go to the pasta aisle?
The students immediately began moving different varieties of food out of their already designated spots into new rooms and areas. Pasta was moved out of the “Box” room and into the “Pasta” room. Vegetables were moved from the “Cans” room to the “Vegetable” room, away from the other canned foods (pasta sauce, soups, fruits, meat, etc.). Signs designating different foods to specific locations helped with overall organization, as well as great leadership from various students.
By the end of the service portion of the day, the students were extremely encouraging and spent a few minutes reflecting on their accomplishment. Julia complimented Jorge on his leadership skills. Willians took control of organizing a few rooms and offering task ideas to students who didn’t have specific duties. Willians also mentioned a couple of Bentonville girls were superb at stacking the food in an organized manner and putting a nice "finishing touch" on the task! It was a blessing to see how encouraging the students were with each other, and how they worked together to accomplish their goal!
Springdale primetime students sorted food at the First United Methodist Church (FUMC) then took it to Bread of Life, FUMC’s food pantry. Fayetteville students sorted their collected food and stocked the shelves at LifeSource. Both groups of students sorted and stocked local food pantries!
Once the service component of the day was complete, all students were bussed to FUMC for lunch! At the Table, a non-profit organization that provides meals to underserved families, served over 70 students, leaders, and staff. After filling our tummies with chicken fingers, fries, fruit and cake, we headed out to camp!
Our goal for Spring Break activities was to get the students excited about taking action in serving the community as well as provide them a fun activity for them to hang out. The two hours at camp were just what these cooped-up-kids needed during a full week of rain. Activities offered were two inflatables (Crash Course and Wrecking Ball), air hockey, washers, carpet ball, games on the Kinect, Wii, DDR, and of course... lots of dancing.
Overall, the spring break experience for our middle school students was a success. Ozone helped the community by sorting and distributing food to different food pantries around NWA, had a delectable meal from At The Table, and enjoyed a fun-filled afternoon at Camp War Eagle!