Students Lead Way in Giving Back this Season

Students Lead Way in Giving Back this Holiday Season
Posted on 12/18/2018
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photo collage of students with holiday service projects

Learning through service is a year-round occurrence in Lakota classrooms. But during the holiday season, it takes a front row seat in many of our schools.

At Adena Elementary, a recent recycling unit in Melissa Doll’s and Tonya Dull's fifth grade science classes gave way to a unique hands-on service learning project. The entire fifth grade launched a school-wide campaign to fill their classrooms with recyclable plastic bags. Organizing themselves in assembly line fashion, it took just one afternoon to transform the mound of bags into 10 “plyarn” balls that they donated to a local church. The balls will be weaved into eight waterproof mats and gifted to local homeless people giving them a more comfortable place to sleep.

“It helps someone and to know that it makes someone else happy makes me happy,” reflected Sofia Chiaramont.

For students like Alexa Silvas, the project gave her a new appreciation for simple necessities like a house and food that she sometimes takes for granted. Tegan Thiery appreciated the added benefit of open conversation with classmates he doesn’t always interact with. “When we get these breaks for a whole entire period, we get to know each other a lot better and learn things about each other that we didn’t even know,” he said.

Lakota East Freshman students in Amy Mahaffey’s language arts class had the opportunity to give back by volunteering at a local non-profit of their choice. It was part of a project based learning experience in which they ultimately shared with their classmates what they learned about not only the organization, but also themselves.

Over at Cherokee Elementary, students took the lead on two other service projects. A passion for origami inspired two sixth-graders, Brianna Dickson and Ishanvi Karthikeyan, to rally behind a common cause - and bring their classmates along with them.

After reading a newspaper article in social studies class about overcrowded homeless shelters, they decided to turn a profit with their origami creations and donate all their proceeds to a local homeless shelter. Given that they’ve named their growing group “Save the World Club,” it comes as no surprise that they’ve set big goals for their sales at the school’s Cheetah Fest this spring.

“I just realized how hard it would be to be in the cold and have nothing,” said Brianna, who is also inspired by a great aunt struggling with homelessness. “We want to do our part to help expand local shelters so that they can bring more people in and then help provide them with the comforts of home.”

Another goal is to teach more of their classmates how to do origami, in hopes that it will help others discover a passion like they did. “Both Brianna and Ishanvi are leaders in the Cheetah community. They really are ready to tackle the world and help other people and I could not be more proud of them,” said Cherokee Principal Valerie Montgomery.

Seven other Cherokee students, largely led by fourth-graders Amira Scherzinger and Evelynn Roesel, put their entrepreneurial idea into action, selling homemade stress balls, slime and glitter globes. In the end, they raised enough money to claim three tags on their school’s giving tree. “There are people who need more than we need,” said Evelynn of the necessities they purchased for three of their classmates.

The Lakota West girls basketball team used their Thanksgiving break to shop for a family they adopted through Reach Out Lakota, while Lakota East High School is leveraging the East vs. West basketball games for a “Toys for Tots” collection.

“This isn’t a competition between East and West but rather a way to support the WE are Lakota motto and give back to the community,” said East senior Grace Silverberg. “We hope in the spirit of giving back, you support us in this mission to help the children in our county that need us.” View the Toys for Tots flyer for more details about this giving opportunity.

All throughout Lakota, the examples of student generosity are plentiful. See even more ways the Lakota community is giving back this season by searching #LakotaGivesBack on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.