Excellence in Action Group Offers Chance to Serve Others

Excellence in Action Group Offers Chance to Serve Others
Excellence in Action Group Offers Chance to Serve Others
It’s come a long way in just a few months – from its founding back in January, Hopewell Junior’s Excellence in Action has already been busy making a difference to several community groups and to its members.

How busy? From creating Valentine’s cards for Meals on Wheels recipients, to coordinating donations for the Animal Friends Humane Society, from participating in the Shamrock Shuffle to serving as official greeters for new students to the school, Excellence in Action members have embraced the concept of service.

“I’m so pleased and excited about how far the group has come, not only in the number of projects the members have been involved with, but also how they are coming together as a team and are developing their leadership skills,” states Andria Lapthorn, counselor at Hopewell Junior.

That’s the underlying purpose of the group: to provide students the chance to serve others while developing positive character traits. That’s common for several community service groups at Lakota schools, such as The Crew at Liberty Junior.

The twist for Excellence in Action is that it’s done in a flexible manner. “We saw a lot of kids who wanted to be involved but just couldn’t due to transportation issues or conflict with other clubs and sports they’re already part of,” explains Lapthorn. “Others had the desire but had never volunteered before, or are English as a Second Language students, so it was a totally new experience for them.”

“We’ve found that the holdup wasn’t the desire or the skills, but other factors so Andria and Amy addressed them from the very beginning,” says Jeff Rouff, Hopewell Junior principal. “Not every project is done as a team, with some students writing announcements or making posters on their own, then bringing back to the group. It’s an innovative way to still foster teamwork and leadership skills, just in a way that as many as possible students can be involved.”

By building in a variety of ways to participate, the student selects which projects and the timing of how they will assist. “The students take the initiative and responsibility. Once they commit to a project, it’s on them to determine how and when they can help, so that’s been another way for them to hone their accountability, time management and teamwork skills,” states Amy Burns, the other Hopewell Junior counselor.

Meeting before or after school, or meeting during advisory or study hall periods, even doing some components at home, the members are figuring out how to get the work done. “It’s great to see how they are taking on the work and, more importantly, are growing through the process,” says Burns. “For example, one student was hesitant to read the morning announcements for the animal shelter donations. However, the other students encouraged her to try it and she did great! She even enjoyed it enough to offer to read another time.”

Excellence in Action members will continue their busy volunteer schedule the remainder of the school year, always on the lookout for ways they can serve. Already planned is for the group to serve as greeters for incoming seventh-graders during their orientation session this spring. They also hope to connect with Hopewell Elementary School in some fashion, and are considering possible joint projects.

“We’ve already heard from many of the seventh grade students that they want to participate again next year, so we’re expecting more members and more projects,” says Lapthorn. “It will be neat to see how Excellence in Action continues helping our students and our community.”

Hopewell Junior's Excellence in Action members stand still long enough for a photo, then it's back to multiple community service projects. Front row L to R: Aracely Esteban-Marcos, Kasey Hanes, Lesley Chuc, Keilly Martinez, Yasmin Melchor; back L to R: Maddie Barone, Julia Feldmann, Sydney Szuch, Hannah Cech, Ashley Reza, Laila Alammouri, Melvin Lozpez De Leon.