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AuSable Valley students lend a hand, visit with youngsters

KEESEVILLE - Even during their days off, a handful of middle-high school students were volunteering to spend time in the classroom last week.

Jan. 27-30 marked Regents test days for students at AuSable Valley Central School, and most students were not required to take the mid-year exams. That did not stop some of them from using that time in a positive way, however.

About 10 students in grades 7-12 took at least some of those days to visit Keeseville Elementary School, where regular classes remained in session, and made a meaningful impact on their younger counterparts.

"These guys love it," said Elementary Art teacher Kelly Fitts of her class. "They love having the big kids here."

Fitts enjoyed a helping hand from two of her former students, sophomore Brittany Friedrich, and seventh grader Toni Cross. Both assisted with preparing materials for the class and guiding students through projects.

"It's really fun," said Brittany Friedrich, who has been volunteering during Regents week since she was in seventh grade. Friedrich mentioned that she intends to become an art teacher herself.

"It's a great opportunity for her to come up and get a feel for what it's like going through a lesson," said Fitts, adding that having the extra hands in the classroom helps make her work more productive.

In Sheila Taylor's second grade classroom, the students benefitted from the presence of her daughter, Kayla, a sophomore; her son Josh, a seventh grader; and Cammie Keyser, a freshman.

"I like working with kids," said Kayla, who wants to be an elementary or physical education teacher someday. "It's just a fun job."

Sheila said having the older students around makes a big difference with her students since they make very good role models.

"It's nice because it motivates them a little more," she explained. "They look up to the older kids, and they get a little more one-on-one attention this way. It's a nice little treat for them."

Dakota Matthews and Mackenzie Eckhardt, two students in the class, testified to that as well.

"I think it's fun because they're helping us write and read," said Matthews.

Both expressed delight with the time they were able to spend with the high school students, especially during lunch and recess.

"I like it when they're here because they're nice to us," said Eckhardt.

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