come a long way in just a few months – from its founding back in
January, Hopewell Junior’s Excellence in Action has already been busy
making a difference to several community groups and to its members.
busy? From creating Valentine’s cards for Meals on Wheels recipients,
to coordinating donations for the Animal Friends Humane Society, from
participating in the Shamrock Shuffle to serving as official greeters
for new students to the school, Excellence in Action members have
embraced the concept of service.
“I’m so pleased and excited
about how far the group has come, not only in the number of projects
the members have been involved with, but also how they are coming
together as a team and are developing their leadership skills,” states
Andria Lapthorn, counselor at Hopewell Junior.
underlying purpose of the group: to provide students the chance to
serve others while developing positive character traits. That’s common
for several community service groups at Lakota schools, such as The
Crew at Liberty Junior.
The twist for Excellence in Action is
that it’s done in a flexible manner. “We saw a lot of kids who wanted
to be involved but just couldn’t due to transportation issues or
conflict with other clubs and sports they’re already part of,”
explains Lapthorn. “Others had the desire but had never volunteered
before, or are English as a Second Language students, so it was a
totally new experience for them.”
“We’ve found that the holdup
wasn’t the desire or the skills, but other factors so Andria and Amy
addressed them from the very beginning,” says Jeff Rouff, Hopewell
Junior principal. “Not every project is done as a team, with some
students writing announcements or making posters on their own, then
bringing back to the group. It’s an innovative way to still foster
teamwork and leadership skills, just in a way that as many as possible
students can be involved.”
By building in a variety of ways to
participate, the student selects which projects and the timing of how
they will assist. “The students take the initiative and responsibility.
Once they commit to a project, it’s on them to determine how and when
they can help, so that’s been another way for them to hone their
accountability, time management and teamwork skills,” states Amy Burns,
the other Hopewell Junior counselor.
Meeting before or after
school, or meeting during advisory or study hall periods, even doing
some components at home, the members are figuring out how to get the
work done. “It’s great to see how they are taking on the work and, more
importantly, are growing through the process,” says Burns. “For
example, one student was hesitant to read the morning announcements
for the animal shelter donations. However, the other students
encouraged her to try it and she did great! She even enjoyed it enough
to offer to read another time.”
Excellence in Action members
will continue their busy volunteer schedule the remainder of the
school year, always on the lookout for ways they can serve. Already
planned is for the group to serve as greeters for incoming
seventh-graders during their orientation session this spring. They
also hope to connect with Hopewell Elementary School in some fashion,
and are considering possible joint projects.
heard from many of the seventh grade students that they want to
participate again next year, so we’re expecting more members and more
projects,” says Lapthorn. “It will be neat to see how Excellence in
Action continues helping our students and our community.”
Junior's Excellence in Action members stand still long enough for a
photo, then it's back to multiple community service projects. Front
row L to R: Aracely Esteban-Marcos, Kasey Hanes, Lesley Chuc, Keilly Martinez, Yasmin Melchor;
back L to R: Maddie Barone, Julia Feldmann, Sydney Szuch, Hannah Cech, Ashley Reza, Laila Alammouri, Melvin Lozpez De Leon.