Spanish teacher Rich Reid cleans benches with Chelsea Schmucker at Sauder Village in Archbold. The work was part of a communitywide volunteer effort.
ARCHBOLD - Leaf rakes scritch-scritching against the Sauder Village front lawn muffled the sound of chattering teeth.
"They gave us hot chocolate. It warmed us up," said 14-year-old Katie Nofziger, one of almost 60 students from Pettisville Local Schools who participated in a spring cleanup project at the historic village in Fulton County.
Some came dressed for hours outdoors (the guys, for the most part), but many weren't as prepared for the chilly weather.
"I should have worn my snow pants," said eighth-grader Jessica Valdez.
The chill conditions didn't go unnoticed even by those dressed warmly, considering that a swarm of Pettisville band and choir students packed sunscreen and left last week for a few days in Florida.
Rebekah Titus wipes dust from a picture in the 1910 farmhouse at Sauder Village. Almost 60 students volunteered at the historic site.
In what has become a Pettisville tradition, the "left behind" students participated in what is called Homebound, an every-other-year program that blends fun and learning, such as the year students painted with dead fish.
This year, Homebound included a trip last Friday to the Toledo Zoo for junior high students and to the Toledo Museum of Art for older students, Spanish teacher
Rich Reid said during lunch break at Sauder Village.
And yesterday, Homebound students reached out to the community. Some visited residents in a nursing home. Others picked up branches felled by winter storms along streets and sidewalks in the Pettisville community. A few tutored youngsters in reading.
"The key is to find a place for all of the students," Mr. Reid said.
About 80 students cleared portions of the towpath between Napoleon and Grand Rapids, an area that is part of the Buckeye Trail, Mr. Reid said. Students did trail work two years ago, and when Mr. Reid contacted trail representatives about a work detail this spring, the initial response was no.
But when Buckeye Trail folks remembered that Pettisville students are hard workers, plans developed for the towpath effort.
"The previous work ethic of the students opened up the Buckeye Trail opportunity for us this year. We talked about that with the kids, the reason why that happened," Mr. Reid said.
As students see results of their hard work, "it gives them a sense of accomplishment and they are still learning," he said.
At Sauder Village, some students donned white cotton gloves and took a shine to other tasks, such as removing dead flies from a bed in the Sauder Village 1910 farmhouse.
Flies take refuge in the farmhouse during the winter off-season, explained Josie Klaege of Wauseon, housekeeping supervisor at Sauder Village, who said the students were a "really big help."
Sure, several students said, it's important to help others.
But honestly, Homebound has other benefits: "It gets us out of class," senior Breanna Holsopple said. Rebekah Titus, 17, of Archbold, and Rachel Fry, 18, of Pettisville, assisted at the farmhouse, wiping down windows and walls, desks and doorknobs.
Some students welcomed the chance to visit Sauder Village, a favorite field trip destination when they were in grade school. "It sounded like fun to come back here where we could learn about the buildings as we do the cleaning," Rachel said.
At another Sauder site, Wesley Nartker, 13, sputtered in the dust billowing in the barnyard area. "We're cleaning out the coops so they have better bedding," said Aaron King, 14, as chickens and turkeys in outdoor pens noisily protested being rousted from their roosts by the cleaning crew.
Connor Tuckerman, a seventh-grader, had a leaf blower on his back, ready to blast-clean other areas of the barnyard.
Some work required a lighter touch, such as in Sauder Village's museum where freshman Kayla York used a goat-hair paintbrush to dust a tractor.
"There's a lot of dust, and dust ruins the artifacts," she said, recalling what students learned during a training session about the importance of cleanliness.
Students donated an estimated 300 hours at Sauder Village, said Kim Krieger, Sauder spokesman. "That's just invaluable to us." The village, featuring costumed staff and working tradesmen in historic homes, buildings, and shops to reflect life of the late 1800s in northwest Ohio, opens for its 2009 season April 28.
Lessons learned, it seemed, were invaluable.
Christy Ramey, 15, now knows that she wants no part of a job involving a dust cloth.
Steering away from another dusty tractor, she declared, "I'll never clean anything in my life again."
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