INMAN — Inman Elementary School students are continuing for the third year in a row in giving back to their school — and community.

Jo McFadden, principal of Inman Elementary School, said her goal for the Service Squad is to teach students the importance of community service and helping others.

In its first year, the Service Squad only had 14 students, but has grown to 32 with interest at its highest point.

“When I first started in 2015, I really didn’t know how much interest I would have,” she explained.

Now in its third year, the Service Squad has seen positive responses from the community — especially residents at Pleasant View Homes.

“We hear positive feedback all the time about going to help with bingo and how much they love to see the kids and appreciate the things they make,” she said.

The group consists of fourth through sixth graders who go through an application process before becoming a member of the group.

McFadden asks them about their strengths, other community service activities, the importance of giving back and any ideas they might have for the group.

"They also have to get two teacher recommendations and on that recommendation, the teacher puts their current grade in the class, marks on a 1 to 10 scale for them being responsible, their behavior, cooperativeness, reliable, leadership skills and willingness to want to be their best," she explained.

This year, McFadden has students split into four groups, due to the large number of students participating.

McFadden has seen success with the four groups, and believes that younger students are more interested in participating after watching older groups.

With numbers growing, McFadden said she has had to shorten the time each group has so other groups can volunteer as well. Although their time frame is shortened, she has seen interest increase and students are more willing to get their jobs done.

Every week, students have duties within school hours.

Duties include putting the flag up and down every morning, managing the cross walk, handling the recycling system, cleaning lunch tables, and on Thursdays, playing bingo with the residents at Pleasant View Home in Inman.

"Every week their duties change. The first year when I had 14 kids, they were getting tired by the end of the year because it was a lot of work," McFadden said.

Not only is McFadden principal and in charge of the group, she has to oversee teacher's schedules to make sure projects don't correspond with class time.

"They know and teachers know that their grades and classwork comes first, because the projects that we do require them to be pulled out of class," she explained. "It gives the kids an incentive to get their work done and stay on top of things because they don't want to miss those fun events."

McFadden meets with students every other week for an hour to discuss projects.

Some regular projects include rake-and-run where students rake yards around Inman, making bird feeders for the park, creating something special for residents at Pleasant View Home, cookies for courage and more.

"We try to do a bigger fundraiser for an outside organization every year, but we really focus on our community and giving back," McFadden said. "I like for the kids to be able to come up with their ideas on what they would like to do."

For more information on the Service Squad, visit the Inman Elementary's website at http://usd448.com/ies.html or call the school at 620-585-6441 or follow their Facebook page at Inman Schools.

Contact Brooke Haas by email at bhaas@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.