Service Learning

Grade 7 Service Learning Class

Seventh grade students in the Carl I. Bergerson Middle School enjoy the unique privilege of participating in a year-long Service Learning class; one of only a few of its kind in the country.

Service-Learning is a form of experiential learning where students apply academic knowledge and critical thinking skills to address genuine community needs through volunteerism. Learning through service.

The class addresses various general topics like character education, citizenship, patriotism, leadership, interviewing, letter advocacy, and critical thinking. Each day our students incorporate their classroom study by trying to answer the question, “How Can I Use What I Am Learning Today?”

Aside from at least one major local service project each year, the daily newspaper and current events serve as a framework for discussion and study. The classes explore world, national and local issues. They study cultures, geography, weather, government, social and political issues, environment, war and peace, poverty, clean water as a resource, gender roles, local, federal and U.S. history, and more; whatever may be filling the headlines of the day.

The classes are fun and engaging, and most importantly, pertinent to their everyday lives. Many parents wish they had such a class when they were in school.

Frequent guest speakers from the area provide a “local face” to much of our classroom material.

Past projects have included extensive research and projects related to the Orleans County “Poor House,” and local involvement in the Civil War and WWI. This year we are focusing on the Erie Canal bicentennial.

Interpretive Panel Highlights Albion's History on the Erie Canal

Pictured next to the newly installed panel are (l-r): Albion Middle School students Ashleigh Mowatt, Logan Graham and Village of Albion Mayor Eileen Banker.

To mark the Erie Canal’s 200th anniversary students in Tim Archer’s 7th grade service learning classes delved into the local history of the Erie Canal and its positive impact on the local community. Orleans County Historian Matthew Ballard shared information and photos that helped the classes create an interpretive panel highlighting Albion’s growth and prosperity.

Known as the “breadbasket of the United States” up until the Civil War, the local agricultural community would reap the economic rewards of the canal for decades by shipping crops and products to distant locations.  

The panel is located between the Main Street and Ingersoll Street lift bridges next to the Village of Albion’s gazebo. The community is encouraged to visit the canal and view the panel. The panel was funded with a grant from the Curtis Foundation.

Refurbishing NYS Historic Markers

Students paint NYS marker with Clarendon Historian

Seventh grade students work with Melissa Ierlan, Town of Clarendon Historian, on refurbishing NYS historic markers.

New Cemetery Markers Honor Victims of 1859 Bridge Collapse

In keeping with the Erie Canal bicentennial theme, the Service-Learning classes researched the 1859 Albion Main Street bridge collapse which killed 15 people, eleven of whom were teenagers or younger. Two of those young people were Mary Jane Lavery (age 16) and Lydia Harris (age 11). Harris did not have a headstone and Lavery’s stone was badly damaged. With the help of a $500 donation from the OCHA the students were able to get two new “era appropriate” stones as replacements. Service-Learning teacher Tim Archer said that the students have enjoyed learning about our local history and look forward to the other projects that are planned this year.

Orleans County Historical Association (OCHA) President Al Capurso joins Albion Middle School seventh graders Nicholas Harling and Alexis Hess at the dedication of two new headstones at Mt. Albion Cemetery.

Students read inscription of a cemetery stone.

Students read an inscription on Jane Lavery's cemetery stone. The stone was replaced through the students' efforts.