BELOIT — Beloit Memorial High School National Honor Society students are keeping active during the pandemic, most recently erecting a playground set for Family Promise of Greater Beloit, an organization providing shelter, food, clothing and life skills to families facing homelessness.
Students Derek Strong, Geselle Lara-Garcia, Ben Saladar, Jose Bayona, Mekhi Horton, Tyler Jordan, Orion Regenold and Eric Funk were able to put together the playground in six hours on Oct. 10 much to the delight of Executive Director Devin Blay-Stahl.
Blay-Stahl explained how Family Promise had raised funds to purchase the equipment at its golf outing in 2019. During a following Day of Caring in 2019, community volunteers helped tear down the old and rickety playground set already on site at the day center at 655 Bluff St.
Because Day of Caring didn’t happen this fall due to COVID-19, there had been no one to put together the newly purchased equipment, that is until the National Honor Society, they sprung to action.
Blay-Stahl said playing on the equipment can be a great outlet for kids experiencing the stress and trauma of homelessless and helps out their parents.
Although homeless families in the program typically rotate to various houses of worship for shelter, they have been in a motel since the arrival of COVID-19 due to safety concerns which is likely to continue through the pandemic. Families can use resources at the day center, although many are opting to stay at the motel at this time.
National Honor Society President Kana Wong said it was a big project, with the group having to redo several parts.
“It was just the constant minor mistakes that were challenging,” Wong said.
For Bayona and Horton, it was an especially fun way to reconnect with their classmates after not seeing them since school went online due to the pandemic.
“And I know how much I liked playground equipment,” Horton added.
“It was awesome. I’m one to build stuff,” Regenold said.
Funk said the project felt full circle, not seeing his classmates due to the pandemic and then seeing them again for the first time to do something good.
The National Honor Society students aren’t stopping their good works anytime soon.
“We are trying to start a pen pal thing with residents of nursing homes and trying to get a virtual tutoring program going at Converse,” Wong said.
The National Honor Society has 49 seniors, and will be inducting 38 juniors. Officers include President Kana Wong, Vice President Miguel Garcia, Secretary Piper Mitchell and Treasurer Sydney Prowse.
Adviser Matt Flynn said the group gets materials through Google classroom and meets on Zoom regularly.
“We had our challenges being virtual but we had a meeting last week and 48 out of 49 members made it,” Flynn said.
Flynn said National Honor Society (NHS) is also working to set up a food drive for the holidays, and has had a couple trash pickup days to help the community.
The four pillars of the National Honor Society are scholarship, leadership, character and service.
“The students in NHS are motivated,” Flynn said.