Archived Story

NRHEG students blend Prom with community service

Published 10:08am Thursday, May 2, 2013

By Heidi Sampson, Albert Lea Tribune

NEW RICHLAND — Students at New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva High School are taking their Prom experience to the New Richland Care Center.

While this Saturday NRHEG High will host its junior-senior Prom, titled “Diamonds in the Sky,” Georgia Dinneen, a teacher of business education and a class called youth service, leads a class that will bring prom to the care center the following weekend.

“Youth service is a great way to get students interacting with their community,” Dinneen said. “We especially love bringing prom into the care center.”

Once Prom is completed, the students from Dinneen’s class will borrow some of the decorations and haul them the following Saturday to the care center, the teacher said. Youth service students will decorate all over again. From 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., students will escort care center residents in their own grand march while wearing their prom attire from the previous weekend.

Announcers from both the school and the New Richland Care Center will work together to announce the student and resident Prom attendees, Dinneen said. Once the grand march is completed, residents and students will partake in treats, punch and dancing to familiar tunes like “Chicken Dance” or “YMCA.” In past years, students have made corsages out of tissue paper for the residents, creating a distinctive memento.

Seven or eight years ago, Dinneen approached the principal of NRHEG High School asking to lead a class in which the focus would be on service and building leadership skills through the interaction of high school students within the local community. The class would become affectionately known as the Youth Service League or YSL, for short. The class is designed as a one-credit elective offered each semester.

She said students of YSL go out into the community for four hours a week at places like, the New Richland Care Center, a local day care, or Country Neighbors, an assisted-living facility. During their time away from the classroom, students spend time interacting with senior citizens, maybe assisting them with particular tasks, or when at the local day care center, students may read to the children, play games with the children, or whatever else the provider may need help with the day they arrive.

During the month of May, students from YSL will go into the homes of the elderly who are living alone. Dinneen said they will clean windows, complete household cleaning, do various yard chores and handle any other projects for homeowners.

“Youth Service is about teaching students to interact within their community,” Dinneen said. “Our emphasis is on service.”