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CONESTOGA – Conestoga students have used the motto “XL” to celebrate the district’s 40th anniversary in Cass County this year.

Hundreds of Cougars were able to excel across the area April 27 during a full day of community service and team-building activities.

Students in grades 7-12 participated in Cougar Connections Service Day events in many local towns. They traveled to Nehawka, Murray, Beaver Lake, Plattsmouth and Louisville to enrich the lives of hundreds of residents.

Conestoga Junior/Senior High Guidance Counselor Laurel Kreifels said she was pleased with the positive reactions of students to the day. She said school officials were also grateful to area citizens for their generosity with the projects. Local residents provided plastic grocery sacks, coloring books, scraps of fleece material and monetary gifts to Conestoga students.

“Many donations were made by community members to make this event possible,” Kreifels said. “Thank you to all who donated!”

Junior high students spent the morning picking up trash around the Conestoga Junior/Senior High School building and campus. They then moved inside for multiple activities. They made cards for local assisted living centers, put together busy books for hospitals, braided fleece to make dog toys for local shelters, created locker tags for incoming seventh-graders and wrote thank-you cards to people they appreciate.

Senior high students split up into different groups and traveled across Cass County. One collection of Cougars remained at the high school and cleaned up flower beds and wrote positive messages with chalk on sidewalks. A second unit also remained at CHS and worked with plastic grocery sacks. They turned the sacks into a “plarn” material that was later converted into sleeping mats for shelters.

Conestoga student Libertee Lee said it was rewarding to know their work would benefit people both inside and outside of Cass County.

“Making the sleeping mats was a little difficult and time-consuming, but in the end all of that counted because I know that someone out there is more comfortable than they were before,” Lee said.

One group of students traveled to Nehawka to paint fire hydrants and bleachers in spots across town. Other teenagers went to Tyson Park in Murray for their community service. They scraped old paint off bathroom walls in the park and applied fresh coats to the structures.

“We painted the bathrooms in the park, so now they don’t look nearly as dilapidated and worn as before,” Conestoga student Venus Thomas said. “The park looks a lot more inviting.”

Many Cougars also spent the morning at Conestoga Elementary School in Murray. They led a variety of team-building activities with current sixth-grade students during their time there. The older pupils also answered many questions about moving from the elementary building to the junior/senior high building. They then read stories to kindergarten classes at the school.

“Getting the opportunity to read to the kindergartners and do leadership activities with the sixth graders really made me feel like we make a positive impact on them,” Conestoga student Alex Lamoureux said. “All the while trying to inspire and prepare them for life.”

A separate group of Cougars traveled to Beaver Lake for community service. Students picked up trash along roadways in Beaver Lake and cleaned up beaches for summertime activities.

Additional high school students used their musical gifts in both Louisville and Plattsmouth. They traveled to assisted living centers in both communities and sang for residents of the facilities.

Junior and senior high students then spent the afternoon taking part in many team-building activities at Cougar Stadium. Members of the National Guard helped organize and run team-building events for the Conestoga teenagers.

Student Alex Deutsch echoed the feelings of many Cougars with an optimistic statement about the Cougar Connections Service Day. Deutsch said students were grateful for the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of other residents.

“Simply beautiful weather and amazing people doing amazing work,” Deutsch said. “Definitely a day to remember!”

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