Inspired by students

Published 2:12 pm Thursday, January 26, 2017

It was an enlightening and uplifting experience to be in the presence of more than two dozen Longwood University and Hampden-Sydney College (H-SC) students last weekend as they labored across the Heart of Virginia in memory and honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

When I arrived behind Prince Edward County High School to catch up with H-SC students who were laboring to create an outdoor classroom — fulfilling a vision of physical education teacher Janet Green’s — the first scene I stumbled upon was two young men carrying a heavy cedar log on their shoulders through the forest.

That set the tone for what I’d encounter for the next several hours.

Watching the men work together under the tutelage of Green, Alecia Daves-Johnson and horticulture teacher Emily Camden was inspiring as young people, so often, are depicted as lazy millennials who are obsessed with their iPhones, using Snapchat and taking selfies.

The more than 20 H-SC students in Farmville and the small group of Longwood students I would later meet up with in Dillwyn clearly weren’t interested in themselves. They wanted to help complete strangers in a community that, in many aspects, is foreign to them.

For many, including H-SC student Henry O’Neal, who organized the volunteering in Farmville, serving together fulfills the dream King had for America.

“It really means a lot,” he said of his fellow students working together with two Longwood students, clearing trails, setting up a ropes course, felling trees and uprooting stumps. “Part of his dream was to work together.”

Actions mean more than words, in my mind, and these generous acts of kindness through service would certainly make King proud.

JORDAN MILES is managing editor of Farmville Newsmedia and The Farmville Herald. His email address is