As the National Honor Society (NHS) President at Donna North High School, Dori Gonzales knows the importance of setting an example for her classmates. One good deed she hopes they will pick up from her is the act of performing community service.
Recently, Gonzales and other members of the NHS participated in the Adopt-a-Highway initiative sponsored by Donna ISD. While the program is intended for Donna ISD truancy students, it means something different for DNHS’ high-achieving students. It was about serving their community.
“We were able to go out there and show the community that the students at Donna North especially the National Honor Society care about our environment,” Gonzales said. “We want our school to look nice so we can be proud of it. It is important to be proud of our school. I think that was the biggest take-away from this opportunity. We volunteered our time to beautify our area where we come to school every day.”
Armed with bags and gloves, the students picked up trash in front of their campus and along a two-mile stretch of Val Verde Road. NHS advisor Sonia Chavez said the clean-up was a huge success. She said the students were surprised to see how much litter was scattered everywhere.
“It affected them a lot seeing the stuff that people throw out,” Chavez said. “We saw a lot of papers, cardboard torn into shreds, and bottles. It was a very eye-opening experience and impossible for them to get all the trash but the students were adamant about picking up every piece they saw. This opportunity taught them the importance of taking care of their community and why we should all respect the environment.”
Chavez said that the students also learned the meaning behind community service. “As school educators our job is to prepare these students for the real world. They’re going to see the effects if they see what happens when they help somebody or do something like clean up our area. They’re going to want to continue to do community service which will make them more self-aware and lead them to become model citizens. That’s exactly what being in National Honor Society is all about.”
By participating in this clean-up, the students were able to receive community service hours for being a NHS member. But they said the project was much more than meeting their group’s requirements. It was about serving their community.
“Events like this show us that it is important to volunteer in our community whether it be tutoring, setting up for events, or cleaning our neighborhoods and streets,” Gonzales said. “We are the future of this world and we need to have a place to live. That’s why it’s important that we take care of it.”
The students enjoyed the clean-up so much, they are already planning other similar projects that likely will include picking up trash at a local park.