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Builders Club teaches community service
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Community service is not just for adults. Just ask 44 middle-schoolers at Newton County Theme School.

The students are in the Newton County School System's first Builders Club. The Newton group, part of an international, student-led community service and leadership program, has been started in partnership with the Kiwanis Club of Covington.

Kiwanis member Tina Ulmer serves as the liaison to the Builders Club at the theme school, while Holly Kaas is the faculty adviser and Tim Brown is the co-faculty adviser.

Kaas said in its first year, club members will participate in a number of community service projects.

One of those projects will be tomorrow (Saturday, Oct. 26), as club members take part in "Change the World Day,’’ a program that will offer help for those in need, at Covington First United Methodist Church.

Club members also will work with the Ronald McDonald House to prepare a dinner for families; sing Christmas carols and provide snacks and cards at assisted-living facilities in December; and join the Kiwanis Club of Covington and high-school Key Club members in conducting a canned food and personal hygiene products drive, also in December.

"The whole focus of middle school is to help the students learn leadership through service and what it means to give back to the community," Ulmer said.

Kaas noted that in addition to service projects, club members are working with Keep Covington-Newton Beautiful to have recycling bins placed in classrooms at the theme school, so that Builders Club members can help teachers and students recycle.

Kaas said middle-school students at the theme school are enthused about the Builders Club. While there are approximately 240 middle-school students at the school, only 44 were selected for the organization.

"We had criteria to get in. We had them (students) go through a series of steps that showed initiative, leadership, responsibility, and we’ll probably continue that because we need the students who are in Builders Club to be 100 percent in," Kaas said.

She said students interested in the organization were told that once they were in, they were in for the whole year and they needed to be committed. Once a list of members was developed, club members elected officers. They include Jordyn Greenwood, events coordinator; Mahlon Phelps, vice president; Grace Beasley, president; Kayla Goodridge, public relations officer; Avanne Elliot, secretary; and Moriah Milon, treasurer. A few of the officers explained why being in the Builders Club is important to them.

"It’s nice to be in this organization because it is a community-based club and we do community service a lot. It’s just really nice because we are giving back to our community and it’s a sense of pride," Goodridge said.

"It’s nice to know that you are giving back to your community and that you might change someone’s life with the community service that we do," Greenwood said.

Builders Club president Beasley noted that it was an honor to be one of the club’s first officers in the county. She said, "I feel like I am making history."

Ulmer said it takes a committed teacher and supporting principal to start a program or club at a school and said she’s glad that Kaas and NCTS principal Jim Meneguzzo welcomed the program with open arms. The Builders Club at the theme school meets the first Thursday of every month after school.