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The students at Bonnyview High School noticed a new class on their schedules this term - building maintenance.

"We were just going `building maintenance - what's that?"' said 20-year-old Heidi Despain.Building maintenance is a new class at the alternative high school and requires students to spend an hour of their day cleaning the school. The idea is Principal Shauna Ballou's way of solving two problems.

The school's custodian retired in December, and Ballou realized she'd have a hard time finding a replacement in the middle of a school year. The school also didn't have any extra money for activities or field trips.

"I thought maybe we could (clean) our own building and the district could pay us," Ballou said. The school could then use that money for school activities. After discussing it with teachers Cathy Hansen and Nancy Brown, they approached the Murray School Board.

After gaining district support, Ballou and her teachers assigned the first group of students to the building-maintenance class.

"We're just amazed," Ballou said of the results. "This is an old building but it's very clean. If you think the students can do it, they can."

Not only is it clean, she said, but students have a sense of ownership about the building and take better care of it.

"We've had far less building vandalism," said Cathy Hansen, who supervises the students as they clean. "We don't have to monitor the restrooms like we used to."

The students get either an elective credit or vocational credit for the class, Ballou said. But the real reward comes at the end of the term.

The school pays for those who've attended class 80 percent of the quarter to go on an outing - which the students choose.

"It's better than before, because we didn't get to go on activities," said 16-year-old Mindy Smith. "We didn't have the extra money for it."

Friday, March 13, the entire school - 130 students - spent the day at the 49th Street Galleria. "Part of our goal is to introduce them (students) to some new things," Ballou said.

And while everyone agrees the activities are great, the school looks and feels better, too.

"It's cleaning up our school. It's looking a lot better, and it's more welcoming to come here," Despain said.

What are they going to do at the end of this term? Fifteen-year-old Jeff Spens, whom Hansen called an expert wall-washer, said, "I think we're going to Lagoon."