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El Reno students are getting plenty of opportunities to learn about citizenship and community involvement.

Principals from the six public school campuses told the El Reno Now audience last week about programs their students are involved with that teach the importance of giving back to the community.

From collecting socks to helping with food drives and the annual Gifts to the Yanks program, El Reno students in the public school system are rolling up their sleeves to help others.

Garland Delk of the El Reno Learning Center said students there learn in what is described as an alternative setting.

Delk said the school, formerly known as the alternative school, was created in 1996 for the kids “you really didn't want to live next door to.”

But today, the school provides students with alternative ways of learning, rather than forcing every child to conform to the traditional classroom where a teacher lectures. Delk described it as a “blended learning situation.”

The Learning Center is housed in what once was Lincoln Elementary near Legion Park. The building also provides some space for El Reno nonprofits The Lord’s Harvest and Blessing Baskets. He said having the community-focused programs in the building provides students the opportunity to volunteer in different areas. Delk said the students love to get involved.

EHS Principal Pat Liticker said students there are gearing up for the annual Gifts to the Yanks program. It is believed El Reno High School is the only school in the nation that continues the program, originally started during World War II.

Students collect money and purchase gifts for military veterans in the VA Hospital in Oklahoma City. Liticker said more than $11,000 was raised last year and 100 EHS students will travel to the VA Hospital to hand out gifts and visit with the vets.

The Gifts to the Yanks assembly is set for 9 a.m. Dec. 11. The program is open to the community.

Etta Dale Principal Kim Landers said seventh- and eighth-grade students will again be volunteering for Service Day. The first such event was held last year and it sends students into the community to help in any number of ways.

“We’ll be doing Service Day again in May so if you have any projects you need help with, let us know,” Landers said.

Roblyer Principal Carmen Holmes said the fifth- and sixth-graders collected 400 pairs of socks to help support the less fortunate. Some 30 pairs of socks went to fellow students.

Roblyer is also involved in the Beautiful Day Foundation which celebrates birthdays each month for students. Holmes said it’s a way to let children know they are important and the day they were born was beautiful.

Robin Holley at Lincoln said the third- and fourth-grade students enjoy getting to read with representatives from Diffee. They also work hard to earn "Lincoln Loot" which allows them special privileges. The loot is earned when students are seen acting in a positive manner.

Principal Mindy Klepper said her Rose Witcher first- and second-graders all stood in unison when veterans were honored at their school. She said this was done without prompting and made an impression on the veterans.

She said a local church recently fitted 70 children at the school for coats. And when a child broke his glasses, three people stepped forward wanting to replace them.

“I love living in a community that cares for one another,” Klepper said.

Principal Lanae Goucher drew laughter when she said the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten kids at Hillcrest are “learning to blow their noses and trying to make it to the trash can before throwing up.”