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The Central Park area downtown was filled with students from Memorial and Central celebrating more than 30,000 hours of volunteer work for Project X on Friday, May 24, 2013. The all-day event brought all of the students from both high schools together for a variety of games, music, food and entertainment. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

Central students Destiny Bussard, left, and Maggie Dawson dance as they listen to a band at Central Park on Friday, May 24, 2013. Students from Memorial and Central celebrated completing more than 30,000 hours of volunteer work for Project X. The all-day event brought all of the students from both high schools together for a variety of games, music, food and entertainment. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

The Central Park area downtown was filled with students from Memorial and Central celebrating more than 30,000 hours of volunteer work for Project X on Friday, May 24, 2013. The all-day event brought all of the students from both high schools together for a variety of games, music, food and entertainment. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

Central students Seth Hurley, right, and Eliseo Guerra compete in a tricycle race along Waterfall Drive on Friday, May 24, 2013. Students from Memorial and Central celebrated completing more than 30,000 hours of volunteer work for Project X. The all-day event brought all of the students from both high schools together for a variety of games, music, food and entertainment. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

Central student Michael St. Germain, center, yells as he and his teammates win a round of the tug-o-war contest Friday, May 24, 2013. Students from Memorial and Central celebrated completing more than 30,000 hours of volunteer work for Project X. The all-day event brought all of the students from both high schools together for a variety of games, music, food and entertainment. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

A group of students dance as they wait for the tug-o-war contest to begin Friday, May 24, 2013. Students from Memorial and Central celebrated completing more than 30,000 hours of volunteer work for Project X. The all-day event brought all of the students from both high schools together for a variety of games, music, food and entertainment. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

Central student Michael St. Germain celebrates after he and his teammates win a round of the tug-o-war contest Friday, May 24, 2013. Students from Memorial and Central celebrated completing more than 30,000 hours of volunteer work for Project X. The all-day event brought all of the students from both high schools together for a variety of games, music, food and entertainment. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

Memorial and Central students scramble around the field as they play a huge game of tag at the field day celebrating their 30,000 hours of volunteer work for Project X Friday, May 24, 2013. The all-day event brought all of the students from both high schools together for a variety of games, music, food and entertainment. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

Elkhart Community Schools Superintendent Rob Haworth, right, announces Vincent Snipes as they winner of a huge game of tag at the field day celebrating their 30,000 hours of volunteer work for Project X Friday, May 24, 2013. The all-day event brought all of the students from both high schools together for a variety of games, music, food and entertainment. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

A student tries to avoid being tagged during an early round of a huge game of tag at the field day celebrating their 30,000 hours of volunteer work for Project X Friday, May 24, 2013. The all-day event brought all of the students from both high schools together for a variety of games, music, food and entertainment. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

A student tries to avoid being tagged during an early round of a huge game of tag at the field day celebrating their 30,000 hours of volunteer work for Project X Friday, May 24, 2013. The all-day event brought all of the students from both high schools together for a variety of games, music, food and entertainment. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

Antwaan Allen, center, tries to avoid being tagged during a round of a huge game of tag at the field day celebrating their 30,000 hours of volunteer work for Project X Friday, May 24, 2013. The all-day event brought all of the students from both high schools together for a variety of games, music, food and entertainment. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

Lauryn Campagnoli laughs after an early round of tag at the field day celebrating their 30,000 hours of volunteer work for Project X Friday, May 24, 2013. The all-day event brought all of the students from both high schools together for a variety of games, music, food and entertainment. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

Central student Adrian Arellano, center, celebrates after he and his teammates win a round of the tug-o-war contest Friday, May 24, 2013. Students from both Memorial and Central celebrated completing 30,000 hours of volunteer work for Project X. The all-day event brought all of the students from both high schools together for a variety of games, music, food and entertainment. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

Central Park is filled with students from both Memorial and Central as they enjoy a field day celebrating their 30,000 hours of volunteer work for Project X Friday, May 24, 2013. The all-day event brought all of the students from both high schools together for a variety of games, music, food and entertainment. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

Students pass forward a giant check to the stage at the field day celebrating their 30,000 hours of volunteer work for Project X Friday, May 24, 2013. The all-day event brought all of the students from both high schools together for a variety of games, music, food and entertainment. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

Students compete in a tricycle race during a field day celebrating their 30,000 hours of volunteer work for Project X Friday, May 24, 2013. The all-day event brought all of the students from both high schools together for a variety of games, music, food and entertainment. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

Elkhart Community Schools Superintendent Rob Haworth fires up the students at the field day celebrating their 30,000 hours of volunteer work for Project X Friday, May 24, 2013. The all-day event brought all of the students from both high schools together for a variety of games, music, food and entertainment. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

Central students Angel Vasquez, right, and Jayro Garay pull from the front end of their team during the tug-o-war competition at the field day celebrating their 30,000 hours of volunteer work for Project X Friday, May 24, 2013. The all-day event brought all of the students from both high schools together for a variety of games, music, food and entertainment. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

Central student Jillian Neff carries Memorial student Elijah Efsits piggy back as they watch events at the field day celebrating their 30,000 hours of volunteer work for Project X Friday, May 24, 2013. The all-day event brought all of the students from both high schools together for a variety of games, music, food and entertainment. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

Central student Rujia Lewis, left, helps her team as the anchor at the end of the rope during the tug-o-war competition during field day celebrating their 30,000 hours of volunteer work for Project X Friday, May 24, 2013. The all-day event brought all of the students from both high schools together for a variety of games, music, food and entertainment. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

Memorial senior Nicholas Hibshman screams and waves his battle gear as as plane flies overhead taking photos of students at the Project X field day Friday, May 24, 2013. Students from both Memorial and Central celebrated completing 30,000 hours of volunteer work for Project X. The all-day event brought all of the students from both high schools together for a variety of games, music, food and entertainment. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

Senator Joe Donnelly talks to students from both Memorial and Central as he makes remarks at the start of a field day celebrating their 30,000 hours of volunteer work for Project X Friday, May 24, 2013. The all-day event brought all of the students from both high schools together for a variety of games, music, food and entertainment. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

Students scramble, running from one side of the field to the other as they play a giant game of tag at the Project X field day Friday, May 24, 2013. Students from both Memorial and Central celebrated completing 30,000 hours of volunteer work for Project X. The all-day event brought all of the students from both high schools together for a variety of games, music, food and entertainment. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

Central students Tashara Porter, left, and Daitriona Bonds cast shadows on to the grass as they compete in the hula hoop contest during a field day celebrating their 30,000 hours of volunteer work for Project X Friday, May 24, 2013. The all-day event brought all of the students from both high schools together for a variety of games, music, food and entertainment. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)
Elkhart HS students celebrate service, set world record

Posted on May 24, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on May 24, 2013 at 4:50 p.m.

ELKHART — Elkhart Community Schools’ high school students got a day out of the classroom and in the sun Friday, May 24, in celebration of volunteering more than 36,000 hours through the school year.

Members of the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Committee (SSAC) announced in November the plan for students to give 30,000 hours in community service, a project students named Service Project X. Since then, students have volunteered at student-organized events collecting food, writing letters to members of the military and running fundraisers, and volunteered individually in their neighborhoods raking leaves, shoveling snow and baby sitting.

Approximately 3,000 high school students and 500 staff gathered at Elkhart’s Central Park Friday to celebrate the students’ achievement with games, music, food and participation in what will likely set a world record for the largest game of tag.

The morning started with a presentation that included Elkhart Mayor Dick Moore, State Rep. Tim Neese, U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly and several school officials congratulating and thanking the students for their volunteer work.

Rod Roberson, executive director of Church Community Services, had been excited to see the students kick off the initiative at CCS last November and spoke to the crowd of students Friday morning. He noted how much the students had accomplished, but also how much it meant for those on the receiving end.

“What’s going to be lasting is what you do for someone else, and what you did for all the agencies and not-for-profits and all the people who needed the hours that you gave them, it’s greatly appreciated,” he said, then encouraging the students to “continue to stay engaged with your community.”

Following the presentation, the group moved to what Elkhart Superintendent Rob Haworth called “Guinness Park,” more commonly known as the former Elkhart Foundry property, for the giant game of tag.

Administrators’ plans had been to attempt to set world records for the largest game of tag and the largest game of red light/green light, but Friday decided to just focus on the game of tag.

A group of students and some staff were “taggers” who tried to touch other students as they ran across the field.

“To make a new record, we need to go from 3,000 to one,” Haworth said. The students did just that.

According to the Guinness World Records’ website, the record for the largest game of tag included 1,566 participants in a game in Japan. Haworth said that there are several steps to achieving a world record, including having the entire game filmed, which the Elkhart Fire Department did from atop a lift extended into the air on a ladder truck. Elkhart Community Schools officials and Guinness personnel will need to continue working through that process before Elkhart’s high schools formally hold the record.

Adrianna Riley, a Central junior, said she had done quite a bit of work in the community before Service Project X.

She’s helped build houses with LaCasa and helps baby-sit for neighbors, among other things.

“I think it’s important to help other people and not just thinking of yourself,” she said.

“I think it’s great that we could come together to help our community,” she said about the two high schools going beyond the 30,000-hour goal.

Juan Gonzalez, a junior at Memorial, put in volunteer hours with some friends helping dig holes for fence posts at a house through LaCasa.

“It feels good to give back to the community,” Gonzalez said.

In the afternoon, students were able to participate in a number of activities, including soccer juggling, live-action role playing (LARPing), basketball and football throws, Rubik’s Cube races and several other events. A few local bands provided live music, so some students just enjoyed lounging and listening or chatting with friends.

All students and staff wore T-shirts that said “Commun1ty,” in recognition of the two high schools, but the one Elkhart community.

“It’s great to see faculty, community, students coming together for one cause, one purpose,” he said.