Sycamore Community Leadership Award presented

January 18 2008

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana State University and the Indiana Lieutenant Governor’s Office recognized six high schools around the state today for their community service work.

Crawfordsville High School and students in Helen Hudson’s Honors English class were named inaugural recipients of the Sycamore Community Leadership Award, a new program to recognize high schools that demonstrate a commitment to community engagement.

Indiana State University President Lloyd W. Benjamin III said the award represents the commitment to service found on the university’s campus.

“At Indiana State, we believe that community engagement and service to others is a critical component of our students' education, one that will stay with them throughout their lives,” Benjamin said. “The students we are recognizing with this award are already making a difference in our world."

In 2005, Hudson’s students initiated a project to renovate the Crawfordsville Amtrak Station, a facility dubbed by passengers as Amtrak’s “Worst Stop of 2003.” During its first year, more than 40 students cleaned the station, removed more than 50 bags of trash, and started renovations. But that was only the beginning.

In April 2006, a small group of students spoke at the National Association of Rail Passengers conference, lobbied the Indiana Congressional delegation while in Washington D.C., and spoke to officials from the Department of the Interior, Federal Railroad Administration, and Department of Transportation.

During the 2006-07 school year, with the station refurbished, the students decided to turn their efforts to the state level. The students appeared before the Crawfordsville Board of Public Works to ask for more lighting for the station, attended legislative breakfasts, continued physical improvement of the station, met with Purdue University engineers, train officials and Lafayette city officials and presented their work at the Governor’s Conference on Service Learning and Volunteerism.

Their efforts paid off. In the quarter following the clean-up, ridership from the Crawfordsville station increased by 31 percent. In addition, the students received Amtrak’s Champion of the Rails Award and the Monon Railroad Historical Technical Society’s Golden Apple Award. The students even organized a trip to Chicago, called “C’ville rides the Train,” to remind the residents of Crawfordsville they can travel to Chicago easily without the expense or hassle of driving.

“Crawfordsville High School did a nice job of combining their service project with traditional learning opportunities,” said Nancy Rogers, director of Indiana State’s Center for Public Service and Community Engagement. “The students learned about local, state and national government, public policy and rail service issues.”

Sycamore Community Leadership Awards recognize high schools whose students, faculty and staff have collectively demonstrated exemplary service to their local communities and other geographic areas between June 2006 and May 2007. Awards are based on evidence of student leadership, community impact, commitment of school faculty and staff to community service as a pathway to learning, and student involvement.

“Service learning educates students to become good citizens. More than likely, these students will continue to donate their time and money beyond high school and go onto become future philanthropists.”

In addition to Crawfordsville, five other schools earned recognition from Indiana State. Roncalli High School, Indianapolis; West Vigo High School, West Terre Haute; Bloomington High School South, Bloomington; Owen Valley High School, Spencer; and Connersville High School, Connersville earned honorable mention awards for their endeavors.

“All of the schools were engaged in numerous, high-quality projects ranging from hunger, homelessness, education, historical preservation and the environment. The number of students involved in service learning was impressive,” Rogers concluded.

All six schools will receive monetary awards in addition to being able to award a Sycamore Service Scholarship to one graduating senior bound for Indiana State. The $1,000 scholarship recognizes outstanding leadership in community service and is renewable for up to four years.

“Hoosier high school students care about their communities,” Rogers said. “The work of these schools is a great indicator that young people can make a lasting and significant change in their community.”

All public and private high schools in Indiana are eligible to apply for the Leadership Awards. Deadline to apply for the 2008 awards is June 29. Community Service projects undertaken between June 2007 to May 2008 are eligible. For more information about this program, contact Indiana State’s Center for Public Service and Community Engagement at (812) 237-2335.

Contact: Nancy Rogers, Center for Public Service and Community Engagement, (812) 237-2474 or nancyrogers@indstate.edu

Writer: Paula Meyer, ISU Communications & Marketing, (812) 237-3783 or pmeyer4@isugw.indstate.edu

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Story Highlights

Indiana State University and the Indiana Lieutenant Governor's Office recognized six high schools around the state today (Jan. 18) for their community service work. Crawfordsville High School was the inaugural recipient of the Sycamore Community Leadership Award, a new program to recognize high schools that demonstrate a commitment to community engagement. Five other schools received honorable mention.

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