Dr. Plank inspires Springwood students to embrace service and justice

Published 9:30 am Friday, June 9, 2023

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WEST POINT — The West Point Rotary Club has been one of the leading civic clubs in the Greater Valley Area for more than 100 years now. There have been many weekly meetings over that span, but something happened Thursday that most likely had never happened before. A member of the club had their fiance’ as the guest speaker.

The engaged couple are Springwood Head of School Kim Baylis and Dr. Michael Plank, the school’s director of campus life.

They received hearty congratulations from everyone present, and Dr. Plank talked about what he’d like to do to get Springwood’s community service back to what it was pre-Covid.

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“We hit a pause button with the pandemic,” he said. “We stopped doing many things we had been doing, and it has been hard to get back where we were.”

The school took a big step in doing that with a near-normal Wildcat Workday in late April. Prior to Covid, this was one of the school’s major outreach efforts during a number of school years. It had been a longstanding tradition for Springwood students to spend a day away from campus working on all kinds of volunteer projects in West Point, Lanett, Valley and the surrounding area.

They would handle such chores as needed cleanup work at area churches, washing police cars and fire trucks, helping Kim Roberts and Robin Pierre at the Fuller Center ReUse Store, and doing needed landscaping work at local government buildings and city parks.

“This was the first year our high school students got to take part in a normal Wildcat Workday,” Plank said.,

They missed out on it entirely when they were freshmen in 2020 and took part in scaled-back efforts as sophomores in 2021 and juniors in 2022.

This year, Springwood students did some shoreline cleanup work on West Point Lake, helped Kim and Robin at the ReUse Store, took care of some projects for the City of Lanett and the West Point Police Department and Fire Department, assisted with the Backpack Buddies program at Spring Road Christian Church and did some hoeing and weeding for a community garden.

“Local cities, the Corps of Engineers, the Fuller Center, the Christian Service Center and many other organizations have been helpful to the community and to our school,” Plank said. “We wanted to give back to the community by helping them in any way we could.”

The overall goal of community involvement is to help develop the wholeness of every student – mind, body and spirit – in a Christ-centered environment.

Plank said he wanted the students to understand the difference between service and justice and how the two are interrelated.

“Service can unintentionally create categories of giver and receiver,” Plank said. “Justice recognizes human dignity and the need for us to all work together. Service is what we do for others; justice iw what we do with others. Service is an event, and justice is a lifestyle.”

Service expects immediate results, Plank added, while justice hopes for results but understands that change takes time.

“Service helps others,” Plank said, “and justice removes obstacles so others can help themselves.”

Plank said the ReUse Store is a great resource for the local area. “They have a little bit of everything there,” he said. “If you need something, you might consider going there first before going out of town to Lowe’s or Home Depot. You might be surprised at what you can find and at much lower prices.”

The Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project (CFCP) has done some good and much-needed work in the local area since its inception in 2006. A total of 75 new, affordable homes have been built for deserving people in Chambers, Troup and Lee counties. The work doesn’t end with a family moving in to a new home. “The Fuller Center works with people to help them make their monthly mortgage payments,” Plank said. “The new homeowners need to understand there is a difference between owning a home and paying rent. It’s important to know how to balance a checkbook and to make your mortgage payments on time. The Fuller Center helps their families with financial management.”

Baylis said she greatly appreciates the work being done by Dr. Plank. “It’s a goal of ours to re-engage with the community,” she said.

Baylis dispelled the notion that not much is going on at a school during the summer break. “We have been really busy at Springwood,” she said. “We have had an arts camp and a basketball camp. We are excited about an international student camp we are going to have next week. We will be showing our new international students around the local area. Also this summer we will be having summer slide for our younger students. They will be having lots of fun with reading, writing and math activities.”