Hampton students make a difference in the community |

Hampton students make a difference in the community

Hampton High School students are taking lessons from the classroom into the real world with real success.

An English class unit on transcendentalism turned into an opportunity for teens to prove that even high school students can organize projects that make a difference in their communities.

Marguerite Sciulli’s 11th-grade honors English students recently studied the philosophy, which emphasizes the worth of the individual in order to improve society as a whole. They took it beyond the works of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Sciulli assigned a project in which student groups had to choose a charity, then create a project that could be completed by a student group and would support the charity’s mission.

While the assignment only required the students to create a proposal on paper, Sciulli’s classes weren’t content to stop there.

“I think it’s incredible that on a project we were assigned to do, we just had to create a plan … everyone felt the desire to give back and carry out their plan,” Alaina Flanagan said.

Flanagan, Ana Katsanfanas and Margaret Douglass held three food drives in the North Hills this month with the goal of “a turkey on every table.”

“To connect the whole project of transcendentalism and the power of the individual, (we showed) we as students can make a difference with something as simple as a Thanksgiving meal,” Douglass said.

The three girls collected about 10 cart-loads of groceries, and all donations were given to the North Hills Community Outreach to distribute at its food pantries in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Other students planned to raise money for the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan, run a toy drive and raise money for local food pantries.

Connor Disco wrote a plan outlining a project he started with the Rotary Club to raise money to purchase Hydraid water filters for Haiti.

He worked with Katie Kramer, Mia Coelho, Elizabeth Regan and Jaclyn Secen to raise money within the schools and community. The group took their idea to student council and this week, they started selling rubber band bracelets that say “Hampton Gives Back: 2010” for $1 each. Proceeds will go to a local food bank.

“We’re hoping if all goes well, this can become an annual thing,” Coelho said.

Next month, the group will conduct a change drive in several local businesses to raise additional funds.

While volunteering is a graduation requirement within the district, Sciulli says the project made community service relevant and showed why it is necessary.

“It empowered them to realize they don’t need adults to tell them what to do,” she said.

Many of the students have the desire to help others; they just needed an outlet and were surprised at how easy it was to organize and execute a charity project on their own.

“It just takes a little motivation,” Coelho said.

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