Service Learning is Part of Life at Wiley

Wiley Middle School students provided more than 40 holiday gifts to needy children.

Wiley Middle School was recognized earlier this year by the Ohio Middle Level Association for its extensive service learning program. Service learning builds self-esteem and teaches the concept of good citizenship with active learning. “Students benefit tremendously from helping others,” explained Karen DiLillo, Health Teacher and Student Council Advisor.

The annual Leaf Raking, Thanksgiving Food Drive, and the Angel Tree Project were highlighted in the award application. Each project takes detailed planning, publicity, fundraising, and completion of the service by a dedicated group of students and staff. Student Council and the National Junior Honor Society members take a lead role but each project is a school-wide event. “This process makes school a more interesting place to be,” said Melanie Lesar, Wiley Guidance Counselor.

Residents of the school’s University Heights neighborhood benefitted from the leaf raking day on November 10, when 29 students worked from 9:30 am until 2:30 pm. Neighbors called to express appreciation and one offered to buy pizza for the students. “We thanked her but refused the gift. We want students to learn to do service without expecting a reward,” explained Heather Higham, Wiley Guidance Counselor. “We suggested she consider making a donation to our Thanksgiving Food Drive as a way to show her gratitude.”

Dr. Octavia Reed, Wiley’s principal, was amazed by the school community’s response to the Angel Tree Project. Each year, a Wiley staff member selects six to eight “angels” with names of foster children from the Salvation Army’s holiday tree display at the Cleveland Playhouse. Homeroom classes and staff are invited to select an angel and raise money to buy a fun gift and a practical gift for that child. This year the first eight “angels” were selected quickly. “I went down three more times to take more ‘angels’ from the tree as interest grew and the donations kept coming in,” said DiLillo. Dr. Reid was clearly moved by the generosity of her students and staff. “When I heard that we raised enough money to buy gifts for 40 ‘angels’ I was overwhelmed and so proud. Some of our students don’t have much for themselves yet they were happy to give what they could to make someone else’s holiday happier.”

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Volume 4, Issue 3, Posted 9:56 AM, 03.01.2011