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Students, sailors and others take part in MLK work day
It wasn't exactly how Jamie Baker and Ahnalee Smestad thought they'd be spending their day off from school. But once they got there and got to work, they were glad they came.
"I'm having fun," said Baker, 15. "I like being out and being able to help our community."
"This is a great idea," she said. "It's much better for us and the community than staying home and watching TV."
The two, both 9th-graders at Fairview Junior High, spent Monday morning hoeing and leveling ground, helping spruce up the Clear Creek Trail in Silverdale. They were among more than 20 students from Fairview who came out to participate in a family service day dedicated to the memory of Martin Luther King Jr.
In all, more than 85 people participated, including sailors from the USS John C. Stennis and sailors and Marines stationed at Bangor, Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts and Daisy Girl Scouts, and community volunteers, said Steve Fabry, a member of the Clear Creek Task Force.
"We're please with the turn out," said Fabry. "We've got people working here by the Interpretative Center and we've got another big group cleaning up the picnic area on the other side of the creek."
Many of the students who participated did so at the urging of Fairview science teacher Andy Campbell. He's been bringing students to work on the trail on Martin Luther King Jr. Day for four or five years, he said.
"I encourage my students to do service projects," said Campbell. "I want the students to realize that the place they live can only be as good as they make it."
Part of the day's lesson included studying about Martin Luther King Jr. and attending an assembly at the school last week.
"They understand that this is all intertwined with social justice and that you have to give time to make your community a better place," the teacher said.
He added that the students do community work in nature, not just on MLK Day but throughout the year as well. Some of those projects have included reclaiming native plants at a tree farm and volunteering at Whaling Days.
Even Forest Williams, age 11, didn't mind spending the day digging up plants to be moved to another location.
"I'm here with my sister's Daisy Troop number 65," he said, noting that whenever his little sister found a worm, he had to move it.
Jamie Ninemire, a sophomore at Olympic High School, came out to help because she needed to fill some community service hours as a school requirement.
"I'm in Honors Society, and I'm trying to get my community service hours," she said while pulling ivy. "I wanted to come to the trail because my family walks the trail. We walk our dog here, and I think it's a nice trail."
She added that she wanted to give back to the community, too.
And her brother, Jacob Ninemire, 17, a junior at Olympic High School, was there because he volunteered to drive his sister to the event.
"I'm the driver," he said. "But I'm here, too, because I like the trail."
Jacob said he's done community projects before, including cleaning up the Brownsville Highway and working at rummage sales at the school. And, while the morning was crisp and cold, he said he was doing fine.
"I've got a lot of layers on, and I've got heat packs in the car if I need them," he said.
As for the sister and brother, they like the idea of doing something that marks the work of Martin Luther King Jr. on what could have been a day off of school.
"We talked at school about how he lived his life in service and that's what we're trying to do today," said Jamie Ninemire. "And I feel that the world is better because of what he taught. Now, pretty much everyone's friendly and it doesn't matter what color you are or what religion you practice."