WATSONVILLE—Deep in Second Harvest Food Bank’s cavernous warehouse on Thursday, a group of New School Community Day School students was hard at work, surrounded by pallets of produce and crates of canned goods.
The volunteer activity, which centered around preparing the food for distribution, was part of the school’s Environmental Outdoor Science and Character Development Program. The students therefore receive class credit for it.
Now in its third year, the eight-week program is a series of field trips and activities designed to offer outdoor education to the students, but also team-building and self-confidence building activities.
Run twice a year, the program focuses on the themes of ocean, watershed and agriculture.
It was created by teacher Bryan Love, along with Growing Up Wild, a Watsonville organization that connects young people to nature.
He said that it meshes perfectly with the population of students attending the alternative school, which stresses building pro-social skills, Love said.
“What they are doing in traditional schools is not working,” he said. “Schools are not designed for our kids – they are not designed to sit for six hours.”
The group has also helped restore an agricultural field, hosted two booths at a local harvest festival and led a campus-wide cleanup at their school.
It all started with team-building activities.
According to Love, the students found Thursday’s trip the best part of the program.
“This is one of the greatest things we’ve done,” he said.
Student Josh Lopez, 16, said he has enjoyed the program.
“It’s pretty good,” he said. “It’s helping our community.”
Dalilah Macias, a junior, said she was pleased to be able to help.
“It’s fun to be here working because I am happy to be able to help people that are needy,” she said. “I’ve been here before helping. I think every one of us here today is into it. There is a really good vibe about being in here and being a part of the community.”