COVINGTON - Ethel Hall's fifth-grade class at Oak Hill Elementary School took a break from normal classroom activities Wednesday morning.
Instead of doing classwork in the school building, the students took a mystery trip to the pavilion behind the adjacent fire station for a special treat.
There, they were greeted by Newton County 4-H officials, who had helped organize a special visit from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources at Mansfield's Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center, to recognize the class as the 4-H Club of the Year in Newton County.
"The kids worked really hard all year, so we wanted to surprise them with a mystery trip," said Kim Lawrence, a program assistant at Newton County's 4-H.
The class was chosen as the Club of the Year based on a points system among 65 fifth-grade classes in Newton County.
Hall's class racked up 120,716 points. Two other classes in the county also hit the 120,000 mark this year - a class at Fairview Elementary and another class at Oak Hill Elementary.
The winning class - made up of 19 students - mainly earned points through community service projects, as well attending other 4-H events. The students collected 437 cups for the pop tabs fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House, 165 books for Leap Into Books and 137 items for Toys for Tots.
"They also organized their own can-a-thon," Lawrence said. "They worked a lot of community service projects this year."
To honor their hard work and dedication to 4-H, Newton County's 4-H arranged for Linda May, wildlife interpretive specialist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center, to bring in a Barred Owl and an eastern king snake to the pavilion.
May talked to students about the owl, the snake and how to identify venomous snakes in Georgia. Students also asked questions and shared facts about the animals that they learned about in class and on Animal Planet.
After the wildlife visit, students participated in a water cycle activity and had a picnic lunch on the pavilion. They also made tie-dyed T-shirts and cards that will be sent to military personnel this summer.
Michelle Floyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.