This week, the sophomore class of Forsyth Central High School came to the conclusion of a three month long service learning project that put hundreds out into the community, spreading the word about causes near and dear to them.
According to Antonia Alberga-Parisi, the English department chair at Forsyth Central, the Be the Change program was designed to shake up how students learn to write, speak and solve problems, while serving a greater purpose in the community.
She said that each of the hundreds of 10th-grade students created an annotated bibliography, independent book study, original poetry and presentation from the service project she or he did in the community.
“As a community outreach project, it required the students to heavily research a topic they were passionate about … some sort of issue in society that they found problematic. And they had to determine what they could do to possibly remedy that problem, or at least help bring awareness to that issue,” she said.
On Tuesday, students filled the cafeteria space at Forsyth Central propping up hundreds of multi-colored trifold poster board presentations on every topic imaginable, from the challenges of climate change to methods to combat bullying.
Each presentation had a varying degree of complexity, and each was surrounded by a knot of students and teachers in conversation about the day’s presentations.
One student, Lindsey Sherer, did her project on bullying and how she could help students in need at Forsyth Central.
Sherer said that she decided to partner with the councilor’s office at the school, and have students write anonymous letters to anyone that came to the office and needed positive reinforcement.
“I learned that bullies just don’t care about other people … they prey on everyone. And I learned that I love helping people,” she said.
Another student, Preston Heim, did his project raising awareness for a group called Compassion International that deals with hunger in developing countries.
Heim said that he went out in the community to pass out fliers about the organization and launched an online campaign on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram to raise awareness of the organization.
“We claim we worry about what happens to those kids, but most people just expect it to be done,” Heim said.
He added that going out into the community to knock on doors of strangers forced him out of his shell and to learn how to communicate with people face to face.
“We are trying to show them that they do have power and a voice … I think that by helping students to realize that their voice is important and they can make a change, its building them up to be better citizens for our country,” Alberga-Parisi said.