SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP — The season of giving is fast approaching and Lakeside High School students are getting in the holiday spirit by giving back to the community. These students are showing just how much they care by devoting their time to improving the surrounding community.
Two Lakeside students, Russell Hanhilammi and Logan Stowell, have been on the forefront of motivating others to help the community. Together, they founded The Community League, an organization whose main focus is simply doing good things for Ashtabula.
When asked where the idea for The Community League came from, Stowell said, “We wanted to make a group that could prove that volunteering isn’t hard or lame... a group of people whose only focus is making Ashtabula a little bit better.”
“We hate when people complain about Ashtabula because no one ever does anything about it,” Hanhilammi said.
Rather than complaining, The Community League takes action. The organization cleans Walnut Beach frequently and removes litter from Ashtabula’s neglected streets. Hanhilammi says the group is hoping to organize clothing and food drives this winter as well. The Community League is always welcoming to new members who are willing to make a difference. Its members are hoping to make an impact on the city itself, as well as the people within it.
“If you can get one community to change itself, the whole world can change,” Hanhilammi said.
In addition, numerous Lakeside students have volunteered their time at the new elementary campus. Lakeside High School’s senior Student Council members, along with Smokey the Dragon, distributed T-shirts to all of the kindergarten students earlier this year. They also assisted teachers and parents in providing the little ones with harvest celebrations. Kevin Rinehardt, an Advanced Placement science teacher at Lakeside, is a prime example of civil service. Last year, he pushed for Lakeside to have a steady, continuous recycling program, and he succeeded. He started off by finding students that would be willing to volunteer during lunch hours to collect recyclable material and spread the word. After he had a dedicated group of students to help out, he contacted the Sanitation Department of the city, and he arranged for the recyclables to be picked up for free once a week.
“That was the hardest part,” said Rinehardt. He explained that the whole process was relatively easy compared to other things he has done, mostly because of the overwhelming support from the other faculty and students. He felt that it was an important step for Lakeside since Lakeside, as well as any high school in a community, should be a role model, a good influence on the community.
“That, and it’s just the right thing to do,” said Rinehardt. Since starting the program, the organization of it has fallen to Ramona Kendzerski, a special education teacher, and her students. They maintain the program by making sure that every teacher has a recycling box in their room, emptying the recycling boxes daily and transporting the trash to the pickup area.
Lakeside students are stepping up to the plate in community service, and in turn, motivating others to do the same. Hopefully, these programs will continue to grow and continue to be a positive influence on the community and its inhabitants.