At Coal Ridge High School, the learning opportunities for the 25-member LEO Club extend into wetlands, bell ringing, and the New Castle Cafe.
The club is the youth extension of the Lions Club, an organization dedicated to community service. There are currently 5,800 LEO clubs across 138 countries and 12 in the state of Colorado. The club focuses on leadership skills, experience through community service, and opportunity to develop positive character traits.
As part of the curriculum at Coal Ridge, every student is required to participate in a club. Coal Ridge librarian and New Castle Lions Club member Karen Wood is the sponsor of the LEO Club, and has watched it grow from nine members in the first quarter to 25 in the second quarter.
“That’s 10 percent of the student population at Coal Ridge High School,” she beamed. “These are the leaders of tomorrow. A lot of these kids have not been involved in their community, and they are now giving back.”
With just six months under their belt as an organization, members of the Coal Ridge LEO Club regularly serve meals for senior citizens at the New Castle Cafe. They organized the wetlands restoration project at the high school, rang the Salvation Army bell, helped collect and pack boxes of food for LIFT-UP’s Thanksgiving and Christmas food drives, and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
“People don’t realize how much time and commitment it does take to be a part of the LEO Club,” said LEO President Cathy Stallings. “But we have a lot of fun. Most kids would rather be hanging out with their friends. But if you can get your friends to hang out with you and do community service, you can have a two for one.”
Stallings said that the time she has put in with the club has been very rewarding.
“It makes me feel good, because you can learn new things about new people and they appreciate the things that we do for them,” she added.
The club meets at least once a week during club time at the high school, but Wood emphasized that the club members spend many hours outside of school devoted to community service.
“Most of our work is done after school hours. The kids are willing to go above and beyond; that is a cool thing,” she explained.
And over the last five months, Wood has watched the club members develop into young school and civic leaders.
“When we first started, I told them that they were going to be the leaders of this school, and they are taking on that responsibility. They are representing Coal Ridge well,” said Wood. “I have seen a lot of growth with the kids. They get out and interact with people ” people that they may not have interacted with before, like the senior citizens. They are making a difference in the community.”
November exceptional bus students
The exceptional bus students for the month of November were Highland Elementary student Jose Vargas, who rides Jackie Kneedler’s Route No. 4, Rifle Middle School student Yudi Suarez from Stacey Whaley’s Route No. 3 and Coal Ridge High School’s Ky Bradley from Jackie George’s Route No. 23.
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