The young at work

300 Juneau students volunteer for National Youth Service Day

Posted: Sunday, April 17, 2005

More than 340 Juneau students did volunteer work around the city Friday to celebrate National Youth Service Day.

Since the National Youth Service Day was proposed 10 years ago, Southeast Alaska Guidance Association has organized volunteer programs for school children.

This year, students were divided into 18 groups. Some served lunch at the Glory Hole, a homeless shelter on Franklin Street. Some made a quilt to celebrate diversity. Some picked up trash at Eaglecrest Ski Area, Sandy Beach and Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. SAGA estimated the volunteer work saved the city $15,795.

"It is our yearly tradition," said Joe Parrish, executive director of SAGA. "The event engages our young people to embrace services and have fun at the same time."

Thirty AmeriCorps volunteers led the students. AmeriCorps is a network of national service programs engaging more than 50,000 Americans each year in service in education, public safety, health and environment.

In the Evergreen Cemetery, a group of Juneau-Douglas High School freshmen raked dead leaves in Friday's sunshine and prepared the cemetery for mowing in three weeks.

Sammie Webb, 15, said her class chose to work on the cemetery because the place is cool.

"It has so much history here," said Webb, who did an Irish dance on the grave of Joe Juneau, the city's founder.

"I love the sun," Michael Bagoyo John said while raking spruce cones and twigs off the lawn. "This is like a typical horror movie scene: A group of people are raking the leaves and waiting for the monsters to pop up from the graves."

Steve McFarlin, 14, took his time reading the tombstones. "This one didn't have a birth date," McFarlin said. "If I have a tombstone, I would want people to know how old I was."

Up on Mount Roberts, students shoveled snow to expose the trail.

Matt Clough, a seventh-grader at Floyd Dryden Middle School, said he liked getting out of the daily routine of laboring in the classroom. The group took a ride on the Mount Roberts Tram.

"Some people worked hard and some just goofed off. But in the end, everyone worked hard so they could slide down the hill on their shovels," Clough said while savoring a hot dog at Marine Park with the other participants. "My legs are kind of sore from standing. But it was fun."

• I-Chun Che can be reached at

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