On April 19, fifth graders from Wilson Elementary in Payson took a field trip to Peteetneet Museum. Unlike other trips to this historic site, however, this was not to view any of the artifacts within the building. This trip was a service project to clean up the flower beds located along the staircase behind the building.
The field trip was spearheaded by the fifth grade teachers who decided while planning for the school year that they wanted students to be involved in the community.
“Last summer while we were planning for this year, we decided to do a special activity or field trip each month, and we thought it would be good to do things in or for the community,” fifth-grade teacher Dan Hansen said. “We had a kickball game with the city officials earlier this year and presented our Veterans Day Program at the Veterans home. This time, we thought it would be good for the kids to see how great a town Payson is, and that it’s important for them to get involved in the community and perform a little service when they see a need.”
The original plan, Hansen said, was to work with the Forest Service and plant some trees up the canyon, but after the fires, they were told that it wouldn’t be possible this year. They even thought about doing some clean up in the mountain bike park, Four Bay, but that wasn’t a good option at the time, either. Hansen didn’t give up on his desire to have the students serve, so a few days before the trip, he had the thought to go to the Peteetneet Museum.
“It wasn’t until a few days before when I thought of talking to Ray Wilson about Peteetneet,” Hansen said. “Ray is a volunteer who lives in my neighborhood, and I know the groundskeeping has always been a big job for him. He was very appreciative of the offer to have the students help out there. It turned out to be a good activity for a big group of kids to do.”
When the students were told that they were going to help clean up at the museum, Hansen said most were not too excited, but after explaining the importance of helping in your community, their attitudes began to shift.
“I’m not sure that many of them were very excited when we first talked about it,” Hansen said. “But we got all of the classes together before we left and had a pretty good discussion about the importance of being involved in the community, and even though they are just kids, they can be involved, do something important, and make a difference. They had a pretty good attitude after that.”
Students were encouraged to bring their own gloves and tools to help, and they all worked together until the job was done. When they were done, Ray Wilson told them how much he appreciated their help, and he encouraged them to be involved in the community ﹘ and to come back again.
“As teachers, we thought it was a great activity, and we’ve already talked about this becoming a tradition ﹘ and so did Ray!” Hansen said. “It’s good for for the kids to be involved in the community, and it’s also good for the community to see the kids doing something positive.”
The time spent at Peteetneet wasn’t all work, however. As a school, the students have been learning about the 7 Habits, one of which is to put first things first ﹘ particularly to get work done before play. After cleaning out the flower beds, the kids enjoyed a fun game of ultimate frisbee in the fields at the museum ﹘ a just reward for a job well-done.