The unique and impactful ‘Hawkeye Helpers’ program began inside of Hamilton Community Schools in 2019. The initiative would put Hamilton High School students to work inside of the maintenance, operations, and grounds departments.

After a successful debut summer, things came to a screeching halt in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the ‘Hawkeye Helpers’ have returned in a big way at the end of June and have made a big impact. Seniors JJ Louden, Frankey Gilliland, and Dakota Lynema as well as junior Jordyn Deters are assisting with several different roles and duties inside of the maintenance and grounds departments.

Maintenance and grounds supervisor Keith Folkert and Bob Hippey of student services helped start the program and have been thrilled with its impact.

“The benefit, I believe, is that they learn some new skills that they have never done before,” said Hippey, “they have been driving tractors, trucks, hauling scrap and other items for us.”

It’s a win-win for Folkert’s team as summer projects continue to ramp up.

“We have three construction projects happening right now and my team gets caught up in that,” Folkert added, “This helps us, it allows us to get down to different buildings and do some things that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to do.”

The four students work Monday through Thursday and have helped in a variety of ways including painting school walls, assembling furniture for classrooms, moving pallets and assisting with grounds keeping, among other duties.

"This gives them pride in how the rooms look and what happens at the school as well as some behind the curtains scenery of what makes a school function," Folkert added.

They all say the program will help them in their future endeavors.

“Just two weeks in, I’ve learned a lot while using power tools, team building, and working with others,” said senior Frankey Gilliland. “This is a really good opportunity for us, there are a lot of things we’re able to do now because we took this program.”