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Millcreek Journal

Open house celebrates Skyline students who offered thousands of service hours

Apr 28, 2021 12:34PM ● By Heather Lawrence

Skyline Service Scholars celebrate their experiences at an open house. (Amy Brindley/Skyline High School)

By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]

Thirteen extraordinary SkylineHigh School students performed nearly 3,000 hours of service over the past four years. They were recognized as Joanie Daily Service Scholars and an open house was organized by teacher Amy Brindley to celebrate their experiences.

“It’s quite an accomplishment to get this award. Students work on it their entire time at high school. They must document at least 170 hours of service in four different areas,” Brindley said. 

The 2021 Joanie Daily Service Scholars are Kyrene Benfield, Rachel Berry, Sadie Bowen, Sami Child, Sophia Flatt, Zoe Garver, Grace Marsh, Emily Marsh, Diarra Niang, Lucy Peterson, Willa Robbins, Ben Tward and Esther Valero. 

Brindley teaches the Community of Caring class at Skyline, a service- and values-based class.  Caring, respect, responsibility, trust and family are explored through service experiences, class discussions and guest speakers. 

“Not all of the students who are Service Scholars take the class, but the two go hand-in-hand. Some hear about the class from friends. Some just need an elective, but they end up loving it. It changes their whole high school experience and beyond,” Brindley said. 

The program was started in 2000 by Joanie Daily, a beloved teacher who passed away in 2016. The award is named in her honor. 

The pandemic complicated opportunities for service. “Many agencies tightened their reins and closed to outside volunteers. The Service Scholars got creative and figured out how to make it work. They deserve recognition,” Brindley said. 

One of those creative students is Ben Tward. Tward documented 266.25 service hours with nonprofits like the Ronald McDonald House in Salt Lake City and Tiny Tim’s Toys in West Jordan.  

“We’re a volunteering family,” Tward said. “My mom volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House, and that’s how I got involved. The first year I worked in the kitchen. Then I worked with the development office, which coordinates fundraising events like the golf tournament.”

Tward spent the summer of 2019 doing inventory on donations and gift baskets for the RMH golf tournament. “It was cool because that year we ended up raising over $100,000,” he said. 

In the summer of 2020, Tward volunteered for Tiny Tim’s Toys, which donates to communities in need in Utah and around the world. 

“My opportunity to work with [Tiny Tim’s] was limited. I went to their workshop a couple times and talked to the founder, 85-year-old Alton Thacker. He gave me a tour of the facility, and sent me home with hundreds of unassembled wooden cars,” Tward said.  

With a movie on in the background, Tward spent an hour or more each day attaching wheels on cars with a screwdriver, until he’d made more than 600 cars. 

Community of Caring has been senior Willa Robinson’s favorite thing at Skyline. She earned 170 service hours and served on the student board for the last two years, including as a publicist.  

“For my service, I began playing my cello at Abbington Memory Care where my grandma lived. She passed away earlier this year, but for three years I went there on Tuesdays and played for an hour,” Robinson said. 

Robinson and another Service Scholar, Rachel Berry, teamed up to help The Road Home in Midvale. Despite both having bouts with COVID-19 over the winter, Robinson and Berry were able to meet their service goals. 

“Rachel and I collected donations for the Candy Cane Corner holiday store. We made wintertime kits with blankets, hand sanitizer, socks, underwear and toys for kids,” Robinson said. “I took the class every year at Skyline. It’s such a fun class. I’m sad that the year is coming to an end and the months are winding up.”

Though the award is not a scholarship, Brindley said the students who get involved are successful and college bound. They learn skills that help them for the rest of their lives.   

“These students are amazing; I don’t know how they do it all. They rise above and beyond, and I hope this is the kind of class that shows them there’s more opportunity after high school. Service is a way of life,” Brindley said. 

That’s something that Tward said has been true for him. “I’ve been doing service since I was in eighth grade, not specifically for any class but just to improve myself. It’s strengthened my identity, made me more extroverted and exposed me to a much more diverse group of people.”