By Ben Rodgers
SUAMICO – More than 100 students bustled around Suamico Cemetery on a brisk fall day, cleaning up not only as a community service, but to better honor the past.
On Thursday, Oct. 4, two bus loads of eighth-grade students from the Apollo House at Bay View Middle School descended on the hallowed ground with rakes and garbage bags for more than two hours.
“They may not know a single person in this cemetery, but when they drive by the can say ‘Hey, we did that,’” said Candice Perz, Apollo House science teacher and event organizer.
Prez said the service project was an effort to demonstrate citizenship and personal responsibility, while showing respect by working to improve the overall condition of the area.
“It looks like someone cares,” Prez said at the end of the event. “I think that’s the biggest thing. It shows these kids care.”
Prez worked with former Bay View custodian Mike Sheedy, who told her the cemetery needed some work.
“It looks a lot better,” Sheedy said. “They picked up all the brush, they cleaned the statues that were overgrown, they did a good job. It really looks nice.”
One student thought the morning was going to be a nice break from class, but he left with a different perspective.
“I thought it was going to be better than going to school for a bit,” said Deklin Wijas, an eighth-grader. “But then we got out here doing more and more stuff. The teachers were thanking me a lot and it turned out good.”
Parker Anderson, another Apollo eighth-grader, said he was pleased with the overall results.
“It felt good helping and cleaning up,” Anderson said.
Ron Schiltz, cemetery sexton, was also on hand.
Schiltz has been involved with the cemetery since 1974 and has served as sexton since 2010.
He said the board was having problems recruiting members to run things, so it turned operations over the the village last year.
Now that Bay View lent a helping hand, along with the village, his job will be a little easier.
The village was approached by the Suamico Cemetery Board in October 2017 to take over records, finances and general duties of the grounds.
Since that time, the village has formed the Suamico Cemetery Committee that contains concerned citizens, members from the previous board and a village trustee.
“Our intention was to assist the cemetery association,” said Steve Kubacki, village administrator. “They asked for help on the finance end of it, the record keeping end of it, and the organizational end of it. With that, the village board said, ‘Yeah it’s as worthwhile project and effort.’”
Kubacki said the village is still looking for one more cemetery committee member.
Most of the heavy lifting has already been completed. The time requirement now is three to four meetings a year.
Any Suamico resident can stop by village hall, or visit the village website, and pick up an application.