GARY | A call late last week from Othiniel Mahone to the Mayor’s Office of Constituent Services yielded quick results. Mahone, a Gary Native and special education teacher at Chicago’s all male Urban Prep Academy, wanted his students to complete their latest community service project in his hometown, and City of Gary officials didn’t hesitate to oblige.

Tuesday, Oct. 2, Mahone and a dozen of his students embarked on a cleanup project adjacent to the railroad tracks at 11th Avenue and Virginia St. General Services Director Kevin Guydon identified the location for the project while, Commander Kerry Rice and several auxiliary officers made sure the area was secured from traffic.

The Mayor’s Office of Constituent Services Director Anika Johnson shared her excitement over the unexpected call.

“We always welcome groups and individuals who want to initiate cleanup projects because every effort, great or small, helps beautify the city,” said Johnson.

Mahone graduated from Wirt High School in 1998 and has been teaching at Urban Prep for the past eight years.

“I wanted to show my students the importance of giving back, and make a difference in my hometown at the same time,” said Mahone.

Urban Prep Academy has made national headlines for maintaining a 100% college acceptance rate among its graduates. Several of the youth volunteers, who were all seniors, donned sweatshirts that read “College Bound.”

Mahone stated that he intends to bring more students back to participate in other cleanup efforts in Gary.

Damian is a journalist/photojournalist who is passionate about his work and enthusiastic about life. He has a deep love for his faith, family and engaging inspiring people to share their story.