Joel P. Jensen Students Give The Gift Of TimeDec 12, 2014 09:17AM ● By Marci Heugly
With the spirit of Christmas in the air, most people are looking for ways to give back to the community. There are food drives, Sub For Santa programs and toy collections going on at nearly every corner. Students at Joel P. Jensen Middle School have found a different way to give back this holiday season.
“This year we are doing it differently. Instead of collecting cash, we are collecting service hours,” said Mary Garcia, a special education teacher and advisor to the student body officers. “We call it the Panther Express.”
During the month of December, the students search for ways to serve the community. Between Dec. 1 and 19, they are logging their service hours to work toward the grand prize of a talent show performed by their teachers. The more service they contribute, the more talent acts they get to see their teachers perform.
“It’s always a surprise to see what the teachers come up with,” Garcia said. “They’ll sing, dance or even do a comedy skit.”
The 15 classes with the most service hours get to attend an assembly in the auditorium. The rest of the school will watch it on closed-circuit televisions in the classrooms. The assembly will be held in January so the students can contribute until the last day of school this year.
“Each seventh-period teacher collects forms that have to be signed by an adult or a supervisor, whoever the students did the service for,” Garcia said. “They can rake leaves or shovel walks; there are lots of ways to serve.”
Some of the service opportunities are provided by the school. In December, students can purchase candy cane messages for $1 that they can send to their friends during school. This money is used to buy fabric to make blankets for the West Jordan Community Resource Center, which provides services to victims of domestic violence.
“Three days a week, students with a C- or lower are given RTI time (response to intervention). Students with a C grade or higher can pick a free activity to do during this time. One of those activities right now is to make these blankets,” Garcia said.
While the school has done similar Panther Express programs for the last 10 years, this is the first year they are doing service instead of collecting cash.
“We’re trying to find a way to pull all the kids in. Not everyone can give cash, but everyone can give service,” Garcia said.