New basketball rims at Amboy City Park, thanks to AHS graduates

Jairon Hochstatter, Chanlor Pohl and Haden McCoy pose with the new basketball rims for Amboy City Park. The three AHS graduates donated the rims as part of project for Danielle Benesh’s social studies class. Tonja Greenfield/Amboy News

AMBOY – The City Park in Amboy looks a little different.

Well, a bit newer.

Jairon Hochstatter, Chanlor Pohl, and Haden McCoy graduated from Amboy High School on May 29, but before they did, they brought new basketball rims to City Park.

“In order to graduate, we had to do a government program where we had to contact an officer in the local, state, or national government and do some sort of activity with them,” said Hochstatter. “Chanlor Pohl, Haden McCoy, and I decided that we should donate rims to the park. We play basketball at the City Park and the rims were not so good. So, that’s what we did.

“We were originally planning on holding some kind of basketball tournament, but the dates never lined up. We couldn’t find a good time to do it, so we decided to get donations from whoever wanted to help replace the rims and improve the park, and buy the rims online.”

The three now-graduates contacted the city about their plan, received some donations, and chipped in themselves as all three work at Woodhaven Lakes. Hochstatter can be found at Woody’s Hardware, McCoy is tending to the pool, and Pohl is cooking up some grub at the general store.

The rims arrived on May 16 and they were delivered to the city on May 20.

Advocating for new rims and helping the park they’ve all grown up at was a satisfying feeling.

“It makes me feel good. I like going to the park and hanging out with people,” Hochstatter said. “I’m happy to know that I did something to be a part in improving the park. Maybe it will help someone else out who wants to play basketball at the park.”

The project was a part of Danielle Benesh’s social studies class.

Although it’s always been a fun class, the last year has been fun and rewarding.

“It’s a state recommendation, but a school requirement for graduation that you have to do a service-learning project. Since I started, six years ago, a lot of kids would volunteer somewhere like the animal shelter and play with dogs for two hours,” said Benesh, who is moving on from AHS next school year. “While that’s great, that wasn’t the true nature of the state requirement. They wanted something that was going to have a larger impact to get the kids passionate about important issues.

“I redid it last year and said, ‘Rather than simply volunteering, you have to do more. If you care about animal shelters, that’s great, you can write to the shelter and ask what they need or what kind of funding they get. Then you can reach out to state representatives and say hey, we need more funding for animal shelters.’

“That was the direction I tried to take it, so they’re more actively engaged. I said they could do anything as local as the school to try and make a change here or they could do a national policy they care about.”

Benesh has been happy with the ideas her students have come up with, including Hochstatter, McCoy, and Pohl.

Each project came up with something needed or an outside-of-the-box idea.

“I think this stuff is super important. I have cousins graduating from college right now and they just seem really upset about the political environment and feel they can’t make an impact,” Benesh said. “A couple of them are against voting because they don’t think it means anything.

“That’s a very defeated attitude. I don’t want the kids to think that way. A lot of times the kids will say, ‘This is a lot to do’ or ‘We have other things we have to do’, which is understandable but when they do the project, they feel good about the project and that they can make a change.”

At the May 24 AHS School Board Meeting, two other groups of students displayed their projects.

Chrissy Shaw and Elizabeth Malach spoke about their government class project where they petitioned for future AHS seniors to have senior designated parking sports. The seniors, who will not get to take advantage of their project if the board approves, stated the positives would be senior personalization, school pride improvement, $25 a semester fundraising for the class, water- or chalk-based paint would be used for Mother Nature’s approval, and it’s something to use as a half-day activity.

The other side of things in terms of who would police the parking spots, what the punishment for inappropriate art would be, and what the parking spot dress code would be was also discussed.

Ian Eller, Andruw Jones, and Wesley Wilson presented their project about safety in the northeast of the school as traffic is now congested with the new junior high and high school being intertwined.

The group suggested a crossing guard and gave examples of why something needed to be done for the safety of the children and drivers.

Benesh mentioned other class projects such as the addition of a resource officer and another on ways to stop vandalism.

The class may have left an impact on Hochstatter as he wants to continue to help Amboy.

“It was a really great class and she is a fun teacher. She likes to really get the students engaged and she stayed on us to make sure we got the project done,” Hochstatter said. “She emphasized not just taking the class for a grade but as a way to help the community.

“I could see myself doing more for the community. I’m thinking about joining the local Lions Club. When I was younger I was in the Leos Club, but high school sports took up so much time, I stopped. Now, that I’m done with high school, I want to help out more in the community any way I can.”