NDA Service Day Set for April 23

Adison Karbon, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

NDA students signed up a couple weeks ago for the annual Service Day on April 23. 

This tradition began in the mid-1990s after a test run of 150 students went extremely well, and the president, Dr. Mike Gross, wanted the whole school involved. 

Initially, NDA did a 10k walk as their school wide fundraiser. 

“Every student was supposed to get pledges for $65 dollars, and as a school we walked out of the building and did a route around the neighborhood north of us, circling back to the school from Military to Mason.  It looked like a massive school walkout! Some kids ran, but most of us just walked and talked,” said Mrs. Carolyn Brown, English teacher at NDA since 1996.

A few years after Mrs. Brown joined the school, Student Government was reorganized with  the format we now have: Executive Board, the Senate for policy, and the Outreach Branch for service.

“Our president, Dr. Gross, suggested we try an experiment and have 150 of our students do service in the community rather than just walk.  So we did that. A young teacher in the science department was our Outreach adviser and organized the service work for 150 of our kids,” said Brown. 

Like the walkers, those students also had to get $65 in pledges, but they went out to places like Paul’s Pantry and middle and elementary schools instead walking six miles. If students did not get the donations, they had to serve detentions. 

The experiment was successful, and Dr. Gross wanted the whole school to participate. 

“Imagine that!  Finding sites for almost 800 kids!  It was a terrific job, and Tracie Van Gheem, who taught Spanish and had become the Outreach adviser (the young science teacher left to teach at Kaukauna) actually DID it for quite a few years.  She did it while teaching too. She was a real workhorse!” said Brown. Van Gheem now teaches at Pulaski High School.

Then Dr. Gross decided that students shouldn’t get pledges to serve, so the idea of pledges was discontinued. 

“Of course, the day has changed quite a bit the past four or five years with only the juniors and seniors serving–it all goes back to the task of finding so many service sites.  That’s a full-time job for someone, and we simply can’t release anyone to work on just that, you know,” said Brown.

Up until a few years ago, parents would run the sign-up tables at lunch. 

Teachers would also compete for sights along with the students. “We used to have a sign-up sheet in the staff lounge, and some were adamant about where they wanted to go,” said Brown. 

The tradition continues today, but with only the seniors and juniors. The sophomores will participate in the Pre-ACT test and the freshmen will take a field trip.

All participating students signed up for different sights all around the community in groups as small as four to as large as twenty. Now they use computers to sign up.

The date is set to be April 23, if school is back in session, and all signed-up students are expected to report to their sites at either 8 a.m. or 9 a.m.