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Impact Project promotes community service

Anika Mereddy, Assistant News Editor

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What would it be like if everyone in the world cared about others and reached out to help those in need? In Mike Murphy’s English 10 class, each year students have the opportunity to make a difference through the Impact Project, which inspires students to help others.

The project is derived from Elie Wiesel’s Holocaust memoir “Night.”

“In the documentary [about the book], people talk about getting up and doing something positive,” Murphy said.

The book and documentary inspired Murphy and other teachers 10 years ago to assign a project that would help students make a real difference in the community and the world, and he has been assigning it ever since.

“Some other teachers had this idea and I thought it would be too much work [for the students], but I followed along,” Murphy said. “It has been fantastic and it is my favorite [project].”

Students are required to research their individual topics and present their findings to the class, including what they did to support the cause.

“It is a project that [can not only be] very personal to you, but others are also able to help with your project as well,” sophomore Stephanie Zini said.

The activity helps participants become more involved in the community.

“I’m making a mural, and I chose to make my topic mental illness because it is something that everyone hears about but sees as a statistic, rather than something that people are actually going through,” Zini said.

Students can choose any cause that they are passionate about and then contribute to this cause in a meaningful way. For example, a student may choose to organize a fundraiser for cancer research or a bake sale to raise money for girl’s education.

“My partner and I went to the Avon 39 Breast Cancer Walk; we volunteered by cheering at the stations and helped set up tents for the people sleeping in the fields,” sophomore Anna Kate Erstling said.

The project promotes choice and individuality, and students often thrive in this creative environment, which becomes more than just a typical class activity because it encourages students to participate in events outside of school that can make a difference in the world. Although the project only lasts a few months, students can choose to participate in the event for time to come.

“It inspired [me] to walk [in the event] next year and get more involved with the research,” Erstling said. “These women and men are doing a courageous act to help raise awareness for people with breast cancer, and I feel like what we did helped them get through their long journey.”

In addition to assisting the community, students become more comfortable presenting in front of the class because they are interested in the topic at hand.

“[You can choose] anything you believe is the most important issue facing our world. After you find one, you then make an [impact] on the community by doing something related to your topic,” sophomore Alexis Rickard said. “My group’s topic was homelessness, and we made baked goods and donated them to a local shelter.”

The project helps students address many important issues and thus allows them to contribute to the causes they feel are pressing.

“I think that knowing [about] these issues is important and will impact me in the future,” Rickard said.

This assignment encourages students to actively involve themselves in community service.

“We received so many donations that this will be an ongoing project for us,” sophomore Marissa Dasher said.

Dasher worked with her partners to sew dresses for young girls in Africa through the Little Dresses for Africa organization.

“We are very excited to keep donating our time to help others,” Dasher said.  

The project gives students a direct chance to help the less fortunate, but is also a way for them to learn from their classmates about other important causes.

“The project enables students to go out into the community and have an experience that they [are] capable of and will remember,” Murphy said. “It is a positive experience because they are making a positive impact.”

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The student news site of Chantilly High School (Chantilly, VA)
Impact Project promotes community service