Neptune Middle School (NMS) firmly believes that service learning is a vital part of an effective school curriculum. In their eleventh year of operation, NMS has a strong history of serving the community. Nine academic teams – three at each grade level, special area classes and programs, departments and school clubs all participate in on-going, annual service-learning projects as defined by the annual school improvement goals developed by the School Advisory Council.
A Youth Service Council composed of 20 at-risk and honor students was established after being awarded a 1997 Florida Learn and Serve Grant. The school’s program expanded to 18 service-learning projects this year and numerous community partnerships. The Council, once only an after-school club, is now a leadership class offering. Members represent at-risk, exceptional education and regular education populations in addition to diverse ethnic backgrounds.
The school meets human needs through projects accomplished through work with local agencies. Honor Society students volunteer with Give Kids the World after researching a terminal illness that plagues children and sharing the information among peers. The local Council on Aging is the site of an annual Young at Heart Dance. This is held on Valentine’s Day to provide adolescent companionship to the elderly. Plant-Row-For-the-Hungry engages the services of a local gardener in the planting of vegetables where the crops are donated the local Meals on Wheels.
The school also touches the environmental needs by publicizing and actively recycling. The eighth grade class won top awards for the amount of recycling accomplished. They filled bins with paper, cans, glass, phone books as well as styrofoam. In addition to this, plans are being formulated to work with the local Wildlife Commission to preserve an island in the community.
The Florida Wading Bird Research Project established an innovative partnership with Gatorland of Florida and the Kissimmee Valley Audubon Society. NMS students along with senior citizens, observe native wading birds and their nesting habits on the Gatorland property. Students conduct field research, identify species, nesting habits and habitats, serve as field guides and update a web page showcasing the research. A local Historical Society utilizes school volunteers to conduct demonstrations for visitors also.
NMS is firmly established as a school active in serving its community. The activities they participate in are funded by grants, fundraising or business partnership donations. Their goal is to continue to strive for excellence in service, and to continue to foster a spirit of service throughout their school community.