Four eighth graders at Wasuma Elementary School in Ahwahnee have been awarded the prestigious “I Make a Difference” award, presented to them for doing more than 70 community outreach services, each, during the first three quarters of the school year.
The students were Kalera Hood, Tessa Butcher, Natalie Jenner, and Kylie Aleshire.
This is the first year the “Make a Difference” program was introduced to the sixth, seventh and eighth grade students at the school. The program was the idea of junior high (sixth through eighth graders) math teacher Kelli Seals who works closely with science teacher Heather Archer, social studies teacher Cecelia Oetinger, and language arts teacher Larissa Bond.
The program is designed to encourage students to make a difference in their lives, and the lives around them, through community outreach opportunities.
“Each quarter, students were given a ‘Make a Difference’ checklist, as well as a journal,” said Seals. “Each student would try to complete at least one activity a week. After each activity, students would either include in their journal, a picture of them doing the activity, or write a journal entry about the activity.”
Seals said some of the activities required an adult signature. The journals were turned in to teachers each Friday and graded.
Activities on the list that must be done for free at someone’s house other than their own include: animal care, yard work, car wash, deliver a plate of goodies or a meal, fold laundry, clean the microwave, load and unload the dishwasher, sweep the kitchen floor, vacuum the living room, take the trash out to the curb and return the trash container back to the house or clean a bathroom.
Community opportunities include: put away five stray shopping carts, pick up trash at a park or parking lot, help a non-sibling with their homework, help a teacher during non-class time, give a flower to three different people and wish them a great day, and make a nice greeting card to be delivered by the teacher to the Oakhurst Senior Center.
Butcher said it was important for kids to serve the community in which they live and learn.
“A lot of people our age are looked down upon because some people think we’re frivolous children,” Butcher said. “But we think it’s important to do good things for our community and help make it a better place.”
Seals said she was proud of the four stellar students.
“I think it’s impressive that collectively they did 284 activities,” Seals said. “In their first few years, most teenagers, they have trouble thinking beyond themselves. And these students have certainly gone far beyond that.”
All junior high students are eligible for the prestigious “I Make a Difference” award by completing the entire 26-item checklist for the first, second and third quarter of the school year.
“It is our hope that as students feel the satisfaction of helping others, they will continue with their outreach, beyond the class requirement,” Seals said.