Builder’s club enhances campus, learns lessons

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 4, 1999

The McKenzie Builders Club participates in campus events and takes on many projects throughout the school year. Each Butler County school that participates has its own club. Recently, McKenzie members helped with Parenting Day by giving parents information as they entered the school's main entrance. Pictured above are (l-r) James Keeffe, Tia Bush and Chris Keeffe.

Photo contributed to The Advocate

The campus of McKenzie School is looking a lot nicer these days thanks in large part to a group of students who have taken the time to go an extra mile for their school.

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The McKenzie School Builders Club has spent much of the past year participating in projects that have made their campus more attractive while having fun with their fellow club members.

The McKenzie group is made up of 67 members from the fourth through eighth grades. The members have the opportunity to learn about a wide variety of topics through a hands-on approach.

"This is a really great club for our students," Judy Smith, McKenzie teacher and the club's sponsor, said. "One of the priorities of the club is to teach the members about the environment, but we also learn about citizenship, the dangers of drugs and alcohol and many other things."

To be a member of the club all one has to do is act appropriately.

"We try to include as many students as we can in this group," Smith said. "Our only requirement is that they demonstrate good behavior."

The members of the club are always busy on a project, but none has been more important than a recent "Campus Cleanup Day." The students actually stayed after school one afternoon to clean windows, pick up trash and plant flowers to beautify their campus.

"They cleaned up the entire campus and had a great time doing it. The campus looked great when they were finished and they all felt very good about what they had achieved," she said.

Many of the groups projects' are chosen because the entire student body can take advantage of the end result. Such is the case with a year-long project that has given young students a place to go on their breaks.

"We recognized that our elementary students had no where to sit when they went on breaks. So, we took a part of the campus that had not been used and cleaned it up for them. The FFA (Future Farmers of America) students contributed a lot of time to help us bring in picnic tables that they could use. We began the project last fall and we worked on it all year long," she said.

The environment is one of the groups' themes which is why they do so many outdoor projects at their campus. But, they also stay busy throughout the year with other, equally important activities.

The group recently completed a canned food drive that was donated to the Butler County Department of Human Resources that would go to the needy for Thanksgiving. To make it a little more interested for the young students the organizers added a hook.

"We had one box that was set up for Alabama and the other was for Auburn. The students put the cans in the box that they cheered for and the one with the most cans by the deadline date was the winner. That made it more interesting and gave students an extra incentive to get their contributions in," Smith said.

The group also participated in McKenzie's first homecoming parade since the mid-1980's when they helped build a float. The float had an environmental theme that encouraged those in attendance to take care of our natural resources.

Members recently participated in Red Ribbon Week when they drew posters that discouraged drug use. A total of 86 posters were turned in during the event. The posters were judged and the best from each age category received a prize.

Each year, the students take on at least one large project that they will work on throughout the year. This year, they have chosen the school's library as their target for improvements.

"We will be working on our library project for the remainder of the year," she said. "We have bought books and four excelerated reader software kits. We will continue to try and put more books and equipment in the library for the enjoyment of everyone."

The money for all of the club's projects are raised by the students through a wide assortment of fundraisers. They have sold t-shirts from which half of the money went to the club's environmental efforts and the other half went directly to the school. Some of the money raised recently went to purchase a computer cabinet and various software that can be checked out by teachers and students to take home.

Each of Butler County's

schools have a Builders Club. The group has existed on the campus of McKenzie of the past 3 years and has seen an increase in membership for each of those years. Smith said the reason for the group's growth is its diversity.

"Every year we have added more students to the group. I think the students enjoy taking part in an organization that allows them to make a difference in a way that is fun. We always have a lot of things planned to do. We do a lot of environmental projects, but we also go where we are needed as far as improving our school, whether it is cleaning windows, doing a fundraiser for library books or replacing a bridge. Few groups are as diverse as the Builders Club," she said.