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Ryan Gloyer students partake in community service projects

Seneca Valley eighth-grader Ben Hayka scoops mulch into a wheel barrow to put around trees at the Forward Township Municipal Building during a community service project on Tuesday, May 21. Morgan Phillips/Butler Eagle

FORWARD TWP — The seventh- and eighth-grade students from Ryan Gloyer Middle School were dispatched all over Butler County on Tuesday, May 21, to perform community service as part of the Seneca Valley School District’s “Community GrOWN” initiative.

About 90 of those students were in Forward Township to work on public buildings and parks.

“It's really a very nice program. It gets the kids out and helps them become part of the community,” said Forward Township supervisor Mark Wilson. “They learn a little bit about community service, they learn about civics, they learn a little bit about how the township works.”

A group of students was sent down to a grassy field next to Ash Stop Road to mulch around newly planted trees and pick up debris from a baseball field. The debris was left behind by flooding that struck Forward Township last month.

According to Ryan Harr of the Butler County Conservation District, the township and the BCCD are in the process of turning the field into a nature preserve, which includes tearing down the baseball field.

“Our goal for this baseball field is to turn it into a large meadow and pollinator garden,” Harr said. “They've removed some of the fencing, and their plans are to turn this into an acre of native wildflowers and grasses.”

“This field and nature walk is really nice,” said student Caleb Karns. “It's cool helping out the community.”

Other groups of students were sent to spread mulch around other parts of the township’s property, including the war memorial flagpole. Other tasks included cleaning the township’s maintenance garage and painting and staining a bridge on Ash Stop Road.

“We're just helping Forward Township keep their property nice and clean-looking and fresh for the spring and summer,” said eighth-grade reading teacher Lisa Tyson.

“We've been just working hard, getting stuff done, and helping the community,” said student Jack Pascaralla. “I think it's a good thing … and we should feel good about helping people out.”

This marks the second year of Seneca Valley’s Community GrOWN initiative, and the second time that the middle school students have been dispatched for projects all over the school district just before the end of the school year.

The students at Ryan Gloyer Middle School are divided into 10 animal-themed teams for the purposes of building a sense of community among each group. Each team was dispatched to a different location in the school district.

The team that was sent to Forward was the Eagles. Meanwhile, the Owls went to Seven Fields to perform such tasks as cleaning up playground equipment at the Northridge Playground, and washing and detailing police and fire vehicles.

Students from Ryan Gloyer Middle School perform community service in Seven Fields on Tuesday morning, May 21, 2024. Submitted photo

“Ryan Gloyer, the namesake of the school … his father lives in Seven Fields,” said Tom Smith, Seven Fields borough manager. “It’s extra special for Seven Fields to carry on this day of community service, and I definitely know that it’s much appreciated by Mr. Gloyer in honor of his son.”

“We want to build community and give back to all of the townships and the adults who give to us and support us all year long,” Tyson said. “We want to make sure that they know we appreciate them. We want to be a part of the community beyond our school community.”

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