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Albany Options School students planted trees, packed boxes, worked on landscaping and cared for Humane Society animals Thursday during the first "Day of Service" for the alternative high school.

Educators said the all-day, all-school event was a first, but one they hope will become an annual effort.

"AOS is often the recipient of community support," said Mark Wolfe, who teaches social studies. "It's nice to show in turn we can be the givers instead of the recipients."

Students were surveyed about their project interests, then divided among four service groups. Groups worked with animals at SafeHaven Humane Society, planted trees at Linn-Benton Community College, did spring cleaning in and around the garden beds at South Shore Elementary School and helped the Albany Carousel pack for its upcoming move.

Anna Harryman, who teaches horticulture and coordinates service learning projects at AOS, said the largest group — 19 students — went to South Shore. There, students in the horticulture class and in Danny Corliss' construction math class have been working for more than a week to build the raised beds. Donations from Parr Lumber, Pro Bark, McDonald's and Republic Services all contributed to that project, Harryman said.

At Two Rivers Market, in the basement below the carousel's carving and painting studio, eight students and two teachers worked to box items for the move this summer to the carousel's new building downtown.

The basement is full of blocks of wood for carving, items for the gift shop and museum, and stacks of carousel mementos, said Jenifer Weinmaster, the carousel director.

"These amazing folks called me up and said, 'We have a day of service,' and I said, oh my gosh, I'll put you to work," Weinmaster said.

Lowe's donated 25 totes to the work, but Weinmaster said she can tell more will be needed. 

"We majorly appreciate the help," she said.

The work may have involved a day away from the classroom, but learning still occurred, Wolfe said. Every project relied on collaboration, team-building, problem solving, communication and leadership to get accomplished.

"Also," he said, "we want kids to realize they can have a positive impact on the community." 

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