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Morris Area Service-Learning energy team takes home state award

The Service-Learning Student Energy Leadership Team from the Morris Area School District was awarded a 2008 Minnesota Student Service Award for Outstanding Service Learning by the Minnesota Department of Education.

The team received the award May 9, at the Minnesota State Capitol.

Since 1988, the award program has recognized the most exceptional programs and organizations throughout Minnesota that engage students in community service and service learning.

The Morris Area Service-Learning Student Energy Leadership Team established a goal of educating the community about the environment and creating projects that would reduce the negative impact. Their projects were an intergenerational National Issues Forum about energy consumption, starting a school wide recycling program where all students are responsible for recycling, held a free county wide electronic waste collection, and restored part of the Pomme De Terre River Shoreline.

Programs that receive the Minnesota Student Service Award for Outstanding Service Learning are those that demonstrate The Principles of Effective Practice for K-12 Service-Learning and are striving to engage every student in effective service learning every year.

According to the Minnesota Department of Education, service learning is a form of experiential learning whereby students apply content knowledge, critical thinking and good judgment to address genuine community needs. Service learning is a way of teaching and learning that engages all learners in hands-on academic projects in the community to meet learning objectives and strengthen communities.

The programs receive a mini-grant, a selection of resources and public recognition. The Minnesota Student Service Awards represent a standard of excellence that includes:

• Significant and measurable service and learning;

• Significant involvement of youth in program planning, implementation, and evaluation;

• Demonstrated cultural competence through its participants, its practice, and its outcomes;

• Evidence of community support and involvement;

• Clear linkage of service learning with the overall mission and goals of the school; and,

• Thoughtful evaluation of the effectiveness of the program and its impact on participants, sponsoring school and/or the organization, and the community.

Addressing the award winners, Michelle Kamenov, Minnesota Department of Education Service Learning Specialist said, "It is through service and service learning that today's young people have a tremendous influence on our classrooms, our communities and even on our government. With this power comes responsibility - a responsibility to always do your best, to never settle for less, and to make a lifelong commitment to service. I know that you all take that responsibility very seriously. For this, we honor you today and hope that this celebration only inspires you to do more." Funding for this program is provided in part by the Corporation for National and Community Service and Learn and Serve America.