High school graduates are traditionally in the role of receivers of gifts, but on Friday, May 22, seniors from Saratoga Springs High School sought to reverse that trend by participating in a Senior Give Back Day and donating their time all over their community.
The program is in its second year. Last May, 217 students spent part of their days volunteering. This year, participation has grown to 275 students, or over 60 percent of the senior class. Students sign up for the program early in the year, and the idea is to show appreciation to the area.
These kids have been supported for 13 years, not just by their families and schoolteachers, but by parts of the community. This is an effort to give something back, said Richard DeMartino, co-advisor for the National Honor Society and school psychologist.
Though the program is run through the NHS, participants are from the entire student body. Students volunteered for four hours on Friday morning, meaning that they contributed well over 1,000 hours of work. Transportation to the 24 work sites all around the community was provided by the school district.
Much of the work was done in Friday's fine weather, as students did grounds work, planted gardens and cleaned window at locations like Yaddo, the YMCA and several of the district's elementary schools. A contingent of one dozen students had the Saratoga Children's Museum all to themselves for a top-to-bottom spring-cleaning.
"They were absolutely superb," said Jane Wait of the Yaddo Gardens Association, who also praised the goal of the program as "bringing young people up to being aware of what the community needs and pointing them in those directions."
The Best Beds Project, which is aimed at improving facilities for backstretch workers at the racetrack, received help flower planting and general beautification at the backstretch dormitories.