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Group from Marquette Enjoys Service Trip to Florida Over Spring Break

March 28, 2023

A group of Rockwood students and a teacher smile as they volunteer organizing items in a warehouseA group of 72 people – including 52 Marquette High students, family members and chaperones – completed three days of service with local organizations during a trip to southwest Florida over spring break the week of March 20-24.

Marquette began offering an annual spring break service trip to students in 2012, the spring following the devastating Joplin tornado. After a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students and chaperones were eager to return to the tradition this spring.

“My biggest hope is that the students will see value in serving others and realize they can make an impact,” said Marquette Assistant Principal Dr. Dan Ramsey, one of the trip leaders. “Hopefully, this is inspiring them to do other things like this throughout life. There are always people who need help and things that need done to make the world a little better place.”

Ramsey said the location of this year’s trip was inspired by a message Superintendent Dr. Curtis Cain sent to the Rockwood School District community following the extensive damage Hurricane Ian caused along the Florida Gulf Coast last September.

Cain had become friends with an area educator, Dr. Kamela Patton, when they were both finalists for 2022 AASA National Superintendent of the Year, and he urged the Rockwood community to find ways to help those affected by the hurricane.

“I wanted to come on this trip because of the humanitarian aspect,” said junior Ian Klement. “I saw what happened in Florida during Hurricane Ian and thought it would be a good idea to come and try to make a difference.”

A Rockwood student helps clear debris from a nature trail during a spring break service trip to FloridaOn Monday, March 20, the group from Marquette helped clear 600 pounds of trash and debris from a two-mile stretch of trail at J.N. Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island. On March 21, students and chaperones volunteered at the Harry Chapin Food Bank in Fort Myers, where they packaged three-pound bags of turnips, tomatoes and potatoes and built 2,300 food boxes for families in need. On March 22, the group volunteered at a United Way warehouse serving Lee, Henry and Glades counties, organizing, loading and wrapping pallets of new donations.

Through the nine years of the spring break trip, more than 1,000 Marquette students have combined to complete more than 24,000 hours of community service, Ramsey said.

“The trip was fun, but it also felt really good to know we’re helping a bunch of families here,” said junior Lisha Maganti. “Doing it all with my friends has been really good, and I’ve gotten to connect with a lot of people.”

Ramsey said a total of 10 Rockwood staff members also served as chaperones on the trip, including staff from schools other than Marquette who knew about the trip and wanted to help.

“The only way this is possible is through the generosity of Rockwood teachers and staff who use their spring break to make it happen,” Ramsey said. “We really couldn’t do it without them. It just goes to show the wonderful teamwork that makes Rockwood the place that it is.”

Two Rockwood students smile as they help pack bags of food at a food bank A group of Rockwood students heads out to help clear debris from a nature trail in Florida A Rockwood student lifts boxes as he helps organize a donation warehouse during a service trip to Florida