GOLCONDA, IL (KFVS) - Pope County High School students got out of the classroom and into the community as part of an educational experience but also to help clean up their community.
It's a new program geared towards the senior class partnering and mentoring the freshman class to make a difference for the better in their community.
"Illinois now requires every high school student to have a half a credit of civics before they graduate," Pope County High School Social Studies Teacher Krysta Graves explained.
"Our senior English teacher and I decided to collaborate and make a project. We thought this would kind of taking civic action more of a real experience for the kids than just doing textbook work."
This year students focused on raising funds for trash cans to be placed throughout the town and in tourist areas.
"It's one of the things we take pride in," Senior Allie Hughes said. "So, we wanted to make sure it stays clean. Not just only for us community members, but for everybody that comes here."
They created this team and t-shirts to wear that help unite them together even more. They decided to design their shirts with an HH on them.
"It stands for hometown heroes and our motto is dream, succeed, and repeat," Senior Kolby Robertson said.
The students joined together all year and went out to different businesses in the community to ask for sponsorships and donations.
Collectively, they raised thousands for the new trash cans, designs and other costs.
"We've actually been to the city council in Golconda a few times," Robertson said. "We've been to the school board in Pope County to get all the permissions. We have raised from absolutely nothing all the way up to 6,000 dollars just within a few months we've been in school for this project."
The classes ventured out on Wednesday, May 3 to install the new trash cans.
Together, they said they are making a difference in bettering their environment while learning at the same time.
"The trash cans will definitely help with the litter problem that's up here, especially because this is such a big tourist site," Senior Emily Adduci said. "It's really beautiful up here. A lot of people like to come up here for pictures."
While the students were out, they also picked up the trash they found lying around.
We caught up with them on the levee where they collected a lot of trash that was left by people and by the recent flood that receded on the Ohio River.
"There has been a lot of trash left up from the flooding," Adduci said. "There was a lot of it that showed up in the land up here."
Overall, they said this is an experience they will never forget.
"These things that we're learning now don't just stay right here at the school," Hughes said. "They will go with us throughout life. When we graduate in a few days, it will take us into college and go straight with us through our career. It will definitely stay with us for a very, very long time."