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Cloquet National Honor Society brings joy to Sunnyside residents

The group of students found a creative way to safely volunteer during the pandemic.

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The students had to improvise at some points during the construction of the seas creatures. (Izabel Johnson / ijohnson@pinejournal.com)

The somewhat brutal Minnesota weather was no match for Cloquet High School’s National Honor Society (NHS) students, who decided to construct snow creatures at Sunnyside Health Care Center in Cloquet.

On the afternoon of Wednesday, Jan. 20, 21 juniors and seniors spent roughly 90 minutes decorating the outdoor space at the care center as residents watched from inside the building.

“We’re just here to have a good time and maybe give them some joy,” NHS member and junior Lydia Stone said.

As a result of the snow not being very malleable, the students decided to build sea creature sculptures instead of traditional snowmen. The exhibit featured a whale, sea turtle, stingray, octopus and more.

“We have some very creative people,” NHS member and junior Olivia Jameson said, laughing with Stone, who also acknowledged the artistic people in the group.

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Lydia Stone (left) and Olivia Jameson (right) stop for a photo as their classmates build sea creatures for residents of Sunnyside Health Care Center Wednesday, Jan. 20. (Izabel Johnson / ijohnson@pinejournal.com)

Sunnyside resident Andy Koathup, who is a former social studies teacher at Hermantown middle school, said it was nice to see the students being active.

“This is nice,” he shared. “I enjoy it.”

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Resident Andy Koathup watches out the window as the students build their creations Wednesday, Jan. 20. (Izabel Johnson / ijohnson@pinejournal.com)

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Koathup credited the groups involved in the project, saying it most likely took a lot of organization.

Sunnyside Health Care Center volunteer coordinator Deanna Johnson said she came up with the idea after receiving multiple requests from NHS students in Cloquet looking for volunteer opportunities.

The students are required to complete a set amount of volunteer hours each year as a part of the NHS program.

Johnson said it was much easier to have the students volunteer outdoors due to COVID-19 regulations and other volunteer protocols at the center, which is attached to Community Memorial Hospital.

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National Honor Society members worked in small groups, each focusing on a different sculpture as part of their volunteer project Wednesday, Jan. 20. (Izabel Johnson / ijohnson@pinejournal.com)

She felt this idea would “put a smile on the residents’ faces.”

NHS coordinator Chandra Allen said the event seemed like a fun way for the students to do something for the residents at the care center.

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Although Johnson expressed concern about the unpredictable weather, the students did not seem to mind the brisk afternoon temperatures.

“It doesn’t feel that cold,” Jameson said, expressing her joy about being able to see her fellow NHS members.

According to Stone and Jameson, the students have not been able to convene very often due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s fun to be out with people,” Stone said.

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The students decorated the sea creatures they built Wednesday, Jan. 20, with hats, scarves, stones and other objects. (Izabel Johnson / ijohnson@pinejournal.com)

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