Saturday, March 28, 2020
Practicing good social distancing Tuesday were a crew of Sparta high school students raking leaves in Ben Bikin Park to earn required community service hours for graduation. They were supervised by Brent Maphis, far right. The students are, from left, Austin Bailey, Hope Palms, Kiara Bailey, Kayden Economy and Latrel Bailey. Herald photo by Pat Mulvaney

Sparta students’ community service cut short by order

It was a worthy effort – while it lasted.

A group of Sparta high schoolers were using the temporary lull in their classroom instruction caused by the shutdown of public schools to earn their required 48 hours of community service needed for graduation.

However, two days into it, Gov. Tony Evers issued his “Safer at Home” order, forcing the students to cease their efforts. But not before they had cleaned out Mueller Square and the park across the street and raked leaves in Ben Bikin Park.

The idea was the brainchild of Sparta businessman Reinhard Mueller, who hired Brent Maphis to supervise the students.

Maphis was a long-term substitute teacher for the Sparta School District at High Point Charter School. When Evers shut down the schools to help mitigate the COVID-19 outbreak, Maphis  was out of job.

“I’m just doing this to earn a little extra money,” he said. 

The first day, the students had a list of things to do which they finished in about two hours. Besides the community service credits, they also got cookies from Steph Ruedy of Steph’s Cakes and Bakes in downtown Sparta.

On Tuesday, the crew was raking leaves in Ben Bikin Park. Among them were siblings, Austin, Latrel and Kiara Bailey, who had mixed feelings about the school closing.

While Austin, a junior, seemed to be enjoying his freedom from the confines of a classroom, Latrel, a freshman, said he’d rather school was in session, especially since he competes on the track team.

Another member of the crew, Hope Palms, a sophomore, was missing her friends from school and little worried about falling behind in her studies.

“I’m one of those people who want to go back because of homework,” she said, noting that remote learning isn’t the best way to keep grades up.

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Sparta, WI 54656-0252

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