On a hot September morning, students at the Aiken Scholars Academy spent the day sprucing up their campus.
During the Aiken County Public School District's Day of Caring, students, faculty, staff and parents worked all over the campus of the University of South Carolina Aiken where the Scholars Academy is located.
"The last couple of years ACPSD has asked the community to come and support the schools through a Day of Caring. This year, the district wanted to turn the tables and have the school reach out and support the community," said Martha Messick, principal of the Scholars Academy.
"At (Aiken Scholars Academy), we thought 'what better community to support than USC Aiken, our partner,' and we wanted to instill in students a sense of pride in this campus, their home for the next four years, at least."
The students planted new shrubs in the landscaped beds outside the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center, repainted the color spectrum on the RPSEC sundial and conducted a full campus clean-up around USCA's buildings and Quad area, picking up trash and pine cones.
But it's not the work done that is most important, the effort really is intended to benefit the greater community in the long run, according to Messick.
"(Community) service is important because it teaches scholars the importance of giving back to their community and the role they play in making it better," she said. "We hope through activities like this, scholars will continue to connect to Aiken County and serve on their own."
To facilitate the effort, all schools within Aiken County conducted a service or community-outreach project as part of the 2019 Day of Caring. All Scholars Academy students are required to complete a minimum of 20 hours of community service each academic year.
"Volunteering allows students to work together outside of the classroom, where they build lasting bonds and friendships through service," Messick said. "It also helps them to connect with their community and see the impact they can make on improving it."