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Knoxville elementary school wins state award for service

South Knoxville Elementary student put in more than 800 service hours in the past year, an accomplishment not many can say, especially during a pandemic.
Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 7:11 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - South Knoxville Elementary student put in more than 800 service hours in the past year, an accomplishment not many can say they have, especially during a pandemic.

Their hard work is being rewarded. For the second time, SKE won Volunteer Tennessee’s 2020 Award of Excellence.

“We’re not made to do it [service learning]. We have a choice to do it and if we had a choice, every single time I would do it, and the majority students here would to,” said Harper McAdoo, a fifth grade student.

McAdoo and the rest of SKE made it a point to learn about serving the community, especially in difficult times.

“Service-learning was a challenge this year because of the pandemic. But kids have found a way to make service learning still a priority at this school,” said Tanna Nicely, Principal.

Nicely was grateful for the accomplishment.

Nicely said, “Just because we’re a small school doesn’t mean that we don’t have a mighty force.”

Students like McAdoo stay busy by keeping active in their communities ranging from picking up litter to gardening.

“I feel happy about it that I’m helping the community and that I’m putting my work toward something that I don’t have to do but I get to choose to do,” said McAdoo.

The latest project was a food drive competition, pitting classroom against classroom. In the end, on Friday all the food will go to their Blessing Box.

McAdoo said, “It makes me happy that people help other people and the environment without being told to or asked, they just choose to.”

She and others have learned lasting lessons along the way.

“We’re using service learning as a tool to teach about you know ok if you have thrown paper out of the bus maybe we need to do a little bit of service-learning around what that means and how that affects the environment,” Nicely explained, “So it’s such a teaching tool, service-learning is.”

“I think sharing is fair and respectful,” said Christian Crenshaw, a fourth grade student.

He’s a part of the Ironman club. Club members work side-by-side with the school’s resource officer picking up litter, learning manners, and just being kind.

Service did not end when the school bell rang. The Boys and Girls Club of the TN Valley worked with kids in its after school program as well.

“Regardless of where you are in life you can make a difference for others around you, and I think that’s something that this school truly impresses upon their kids and when they leave here they carry with them,” said Bart McFadden, President and CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of TN Valley.

He reminded students at SKE.

McFadden said, “They have something that they can contribute to the world around them.”

Principal Nicely said South Knoxville Elementary got funding for two more blessing boxes to add to the community. The student council will decide where they go.

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