By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – During the past four months, Tupelo High School seniors have raised thousands of dollars for various charities, printed books for children, begun building a house for needy individuals and visited residents living in nursing homes and shelters.
The school changed the format of its senior projects this year. Instead of having its students work as individuals, it made them come together in groups to focus on a collaborative effort that could have a greater impact on the community.
On Thursday evening, it showed the first fruits of those efforts. Forty-seven teams of students from the school’s senior English classes set up displays in the gym to present the projects they had completed. Family, friends, teachers and various community members came to see their work.
One team built a rocking chair from a fallen red oak tree and raffled it off to raise $1,500 for Sanctuary Hospice House. Another began constructing a Habitat for Humanity House and raised $14,000 for the effort by hosting a concert and contacting various businesses.
“The main thing was getting students embedded into the community so they can continue to provide services needed here,” said THS senior English teacher April Friar.
The poster displays in the school’s gym touted efforts aimed to help victims of domestic violence, to tutor students and to benefit Tupelo’s Salvation Army and Red Cross, among other things. One group rewrote the story of Beowulf on a sixth-grade level, printed books and presented them at Milam Elementary School. Another raised money for Helping Hands food pantry and a third led a character education lesson for students at Thomas Street Elementary School.
“With four people, you can accomplish more than with one person, said Drew Ballard, 17. “The group aspect led to more community service.”
The format for displaying the project also was different. In the past, Tupelo High School had one Culmination Day in the spring at which all of its seniors brought their projects to BancorpSouth Arena.
Because of the school’s new block schedule, however, it will host two culmination events this year, and each will be on the school’s campus. The event for the second semester will be held in May.