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Record Number of Cornell College Students Taking Alternative Spring Break

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MOUNT VERNON, Iowa - A record number of Cornell College students will spend their spring break performing community service.

The college reports more than 120 students, or 10 percent of the Cornell student body, are taking an alternative spring break, or ASB.

"I think it speaks to the caliber of students that we have here at Cornell. I've spoken with a number of other institutions... It's possible we may be nationally ranked for our participation this year," said Michael Johnson, the school's coordinator of civic engagement.

Johnson said the number of students taking these community service trips has grown consistently each year. He attributed the rise, in part, to the variety of ASB programs available, which this year amount to 10 and include helping the impoverished and disaster relief.

"I think the primary reason is people are doing it is because friends have enjoyed it so much. The word of mouth is our biggest way of promoting ASB trips," said Johnson.

Erin Vick, a Cornell junior, is skipping the traditional spring break beaches to do an ASB in Atlanta. She'll be helping out an after school program that's geared toward giving urban youth a better education.

This year's trip will be Vick's third ASB. She said she knows she's losing some free time, but she's not missing it.

"I'm not. I love ASB. This is my third year doing it and it's one of the most fun opportunities I've had at Cornell," said Vick.

Cornell isn't the only Iowa school to have a lot of students doing an alternative spring break. At Wartburg, officials estimate more than 15 percent of the student body participates in the service trips.

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