A group of 31 Ottumwa High School donated over 7,200 hours of community service to a variety of organizations, both local and as far away as Mexico.
Their service was as diverse as the group of students who wanted to give back to their community. Some students, like Delaney Throckmorton, did a lot of small things that added up to the required 200 hours to don the coveted silver cord at graduation. Other students, like Elle Weilbrenner, Klayre Michel, Sydney Cormeny, and Jarhett VanEngelenhoven helped at the annual Horace Mann Science Camp.
Weilbrenner also worked with girls in fourth and fifth grade during summer camps at Indian Hills. The camps were promoted girls in engineering. She taught them how to get involved in STEM. While she participates in a robotics club, her career path will be criminology. “I wanted to give back to the community and set an example of leadership,” she said.
Building a house in Mexico was an experience Klayre Michel won’t soon forget. She also was a reading buddy at Wilson Elementary, volunteered for swim team, and was an OHS teacher’s assistant. “It’s fun and makes you feel good,” she said. “I met a lot of new people I wouldn’t have met otherwise.”
With an interest in sports, Jarhett VanEngelenhoven volunteered as a referee for Ottumwa youth leagues, including basketball and football. He also mentored a fourth grader at Liberty Elementary weekly. With younger siblings, he enjoyed getting to know someone that age and “creating a new friendship.”
Devon Batterson wants to be a teacher. She spent a lot of time volunteering in elementary classrooms. “Volunteering gave me a lot of experience and allowed me to help out,” she said.
Holidays were made more special by Ariana Munez, who along with other Student Council members, hosted meals and bingo at Westgate Towers. “It was fun to spend time with the seniors, knowing sometimes they don’t have people visit,” she said.
Collin Kepner used his time to work in leadership capacities. He served on the Legacy Youth Alliance and was a leadership intern for Camp Invention, where he worked closely with instructors on STEM modules, mentored students in grades 7-9, and built relationships with the K-6 grade campers. As a member of the OHS band, he also spent many nights working in the concession stand. He liked the opportunity “to see the needs of the community and address them through grant writing,” Kepner said.
Melody Trucano also served as a camp counselor but worked for siblings of childhood cancer patients. “It was really fun to work with the kids,” she said. “they all just wanted someone to talk to about their experiences. Being able to help them out and sympathize with them was an amazing experience that I will remember forever. I will definitely do it again after graduating because I loved working with the kids.” She also helped prepare books for the Ottumwa Public Library’s “pop-up” library. She loves the idea of getting the books out into the community and into the hands of children. Trucano also served on the Legacy Youth Alliance.
Helping the Wapello County 4-H program impacted Jonathan Clubb more than he expected. An active 4-H member, the majority of his Silver Cord hours were earned helping move the 4-H program to their new location. He helped with various remodeling projects, including painting, and helped set up for their first Expo at the new location. “I know without community service, having our new location would not have been possible,” Clubb said. Clubb earned 352 hours.
Lauren Willis earned over 400 community service hours. Most of those were earned by volunteering as a teacher’s assistant and at the Babe Ruth concession stand. She has also volunteered for the Elks Club and Eisenhower Elementary, both due to the involvement of her parents. “Once I hit 200, I just figured I’d go above and beyond,” Willis said. “It’s not hard work, just stuff people should do on a regular basis to help people out. It made me feel good inside.” The hours spent volunteering as a teacher’s assistant helped her decide on a possible career path. She will attend Indian Hills in the fall and if she decides to be a teacher, will transfer to Buena Vista.
Recipients and hours served include: Riley Albertson, 224; Rachel Almon, 201; Leslie Bahena, 205; Devon Batterson, 207; Paige Blegen, 209; Jayqwon Bridges, 220; Jonathan Clubb, 352; Sydney Cormeny, 214; Justice Finch, 235; Haley Grooms, 202; Brittany Gonzales Espinoza, 249; Wendy Houston, 347; Hannah Jeffrey, 202; and Collin Kepner, 272. Also Lourdes Lopez, 260; Makayla Martsching, 229; Brooke McCoy, 230; Wesley Melendez, 200; Klayre Michel 201; Sierra Norman, 202; Ariana Nunez, 231; Paula Paulos, 204; Ibeth Rivera, 204; Brendon Saunders, 203; Makala Shoop, 200; Delaney Throckmorton, 234; Melody Trucano, 201; Jarhett VanEngelenhoven, 224; Emma Walker, 235; and Lauren Willis, 417.