One of the best things a school can teach is how to give back to the community. At Anne Arundel County public high schools, the signature classes aim to do just that.
Signature classes are courses specific to each school, and at Severna Park High School, the program Business, Innovation, & Leadership focuses on giving students real-world experience by leading projects that benefit the community. In their senior year, students pair up, plan and carry out a project that benefits an organization of their choice.
Seniors Paige Davis and Ashlyn Morris got their inspiration from the projects they worked on in their sophomore and junior years of the program. They had worked on a blood drive before, and since both have an interest in the medical field, they partnered with the Red Cross and led their own blood drive.
“We started to raise money. That was our first step,” Davis said. “Raising money, donating money to the Red Cross and then we had to pick a day [for the blood drive]. Then we really just started planning for everything we might need for the blood drive.”
Morris reached out to family and friends.
“We made an Instagram,” Morris said. “We would post on the Instagram, basically just walk down the hallways and talk to our teachers about it. We really just wanted to get everybody talking.”
Almost every appointment to donate blood was filled, and the event was successful. Morris and Davis had a project that culminated into a final event, but leadership projects can be done in other ways too. Take Ashley Falk and Jonathan Kraft, who partnered with Project Linus, an organization that provides new, handmade blankets to children in need.
“We wanted something physical to see our progress and we thought, ‘Hey, we both love blankets, everyone loves blankets,’” Kraft said. “We found Project Linus, which gives blankets out, and we were like, ‘This could be a great thing.’”
They raised more than $1,000, collected 20 pieces of fabric, and made 10 blankets to donate to Project Linus.
“With all the money that we raised, we exceeded our goal,” Falk said. “So, we were able to buy fabric that we could then donate to [Project Linus] and then fabric that we could make blankets out of.”
Another pair of seniors who collected donations were Michael Carparelli and James Fallon, who partnered with Leveling the Playing Field for their project. The nonprofit aims to create equity in youth sports, they fund sports in less-advantaged areas and donate used equipment to those who need it. Both seniors are lifelong athletes and were glad to have the support of their underclassmen throughout the project.
“It definitely feels good that I get to do it with my friends and other leaders that are passionate about the same type of thing,” Carparelli said.
After three years in the signature program, students learned a lot, from both the classes to the project itself.
“I’m going to miss it because I did have so much fun working on the project,” Fallon said, “And seeing firsthand that what I was doing was helping the community.”
Though these projects required a lot of work, students said it’s fulfilling work. Other seniors from Severna Park completed other projects throughout the course of the year, all with the aim of supporting a worthy cause.
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