MCCUNE — A small army of Southeast High School students converged on this southwest Crawford County community with hopes of giving back to a part of the community that supports the school throughout the year.

About 80 students were in McCune painting fire hydrants, park picnic tables and benches and cleaning up the community cemetery. Southeast High School English teacher Starla Parsons was among the school staffers supervising students.

"This is a day of community service and gives our students an opportunity to go out and help," Parsons said. "It gives the students a sense of pride in helping the community."

Southeast student Bailee Ulery echoed that sentiment.

"This gives us a chance to give back to the people who support us and the schools throughout the year," Ulery said.

Jim Rockers was another Southeast teacher on hand with a group of Skills USA students working on painting faced and worn picnic tables red to extend their life.

"Being a small rural district we have a lot of fundraisers throughout the year where the community supports us," Rockers said. "This is a way to pay back."

In addition to community service, student Kyra Stewart said the event gave classmates a break from the classroom routine.

"Plus, we get a half day out of school," Stewart said.

McCune Mayor Tosh Kluber said the staff was glad to have the extra help from students. McCune has a two person maintenance staff which is spread thin, he said.

"The work they did is going to be a big help to our maintenance staff," Kluber said. "Some of the things they were able to help with it might have taken our maintenance people all year to get around to."

Southeast Communications Director Chris Wilson said students who were on the grounds of the 13-acre McCune Cemetery did cleanup work of removing faded and frazzled plastic flower arrangements while others painted a shelter at the cemetery. The event is in conjunction with the Kansans CAN Vision to teach students about citizenship.

"The Southeast Elementary will be volunteering in Weir and the Southeast Junior High will be doing some projects in Cherokee in a few weeks," Wilson said. "This is the first year Southeast has done something this wide scale."

— Mike Elswick is a staff writer for The Morning Sun. He can be emailed at melswick@morningsun.net or follow him on Twitter @ mike_elswick.