CELEBRATE COMMUNITY

Celebrate community: 'Giving back'

Riverside Middle School students swarm community giving service
2010-12-26T19:00:00Z 2011-01-04T16:57:22Z Celebrate community: 'Giving back'By ROB ROGERS Of The Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette
December 26, 2010 7:00 pm  • 

Scattering to the four winds, students from Riverside Middle School traveled out across Billings last week to offer service to a variety of people.

It was called a "Day of Giving Back." Choir and band students traveled to area nursing homes to perform for residents. Another group visited the Billings Activity Program, where they helped developmentally disabled adults. And the technology and computer class visited Montana Cycling and Ski Montana Cycling and Ski where they repaired bikes for their classmates. 

"We have one (bike) that was donated," said Scott Haffey, the technology teacher. "We're going to donate it to one of the kids at school."

But mostly the bikes belonged to students at the school who either didn't know how to repair them or couldn't afford to do so. The class took on the project of getting them repaired and teaching the skills.

"Kids love bikes," Scott Guyette, one of the bike technicians working at Montana Cycling and Ski and helping the students, said with a smile.

Once the technology class has the skills, elementary school kids who need help will bring their bikes to Riverside to have them repaired.

The school debuted a new motto -- "It Starts With Me" -- with the beginning of the school year last fall. Students there have been charged with deciding what the "it" means -- better grades, better behavior or more pride in the school and community.

In a special conference before the school year began, students learned about the importance of community service, where they were encouraged to "pay it forward."

Armed with Pay It Forward Cards, the students were charged with doing a good a deed in the community and then to pass on the card, which includes a web address where people can go to log the good deeds as they occur. The idea is to be able to track the card and watch as the deeds multiply.

And as a result, they've been finding ways to serve the community all through the school year.

At Montana Cycling and Ski , they worked to repair flats, adjust handle bars and get bikes back into running order.

"I definitely see some mechanical ability here," said Sheamus Conley, another technician at the bike shop.

The district contacted Montana Cycling and Ski to see if the shop would be willing to host the Riverside students and assist them with repairs. The answer was yes.

"It was really as simple as that," Guyette said.

At one of the bike stations, seventh-grader Jesse Murray was repairing classmate Carl Bunnel's dirt bike.

"We had to fix the chain," Jesse said. "Now we're fixing the headset -- it needed to be greased."

Carl was glad to get some help and one of the class chaperones, James Slevira, was impressed with Jesse's know-how.

"He's always helping his friends," Slevira said.

Both Slevira and Haffey believe the service Riverside students are giving citywide is substantial to residents and instructive to the students.

It may just seem like a fun day away from school for the middle-schoolers, but there are lessons they'll realize they've learned when they grow up a little, Slevira said.

"It's meaningful," Haffey said.

Contact Rob Rogers at rrogers@billingsgazette.com or 657-1231.

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