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Students in Lynn Eaglin’s leadership class are seeking real solutions to real problems at Carroll County High School. These students who have already met their college and career readiness benchmarks on the ACT are now applying 21st century learning skills to tackle some real challenges from increasing school spirit to reducing the drop-out rate.
“Some students don’t have the resources at home to help them with their homework,” junior Brittany Dunn said. “Their parents can’t help them, so sometimes they don’t do their homework or just ride it out and wait to get help at school.”
Dunn and project partner Michael Hall are proposing a homework hotline in which students with good grades would volunteer to be available to help other students with their homework over the phone. They are proposing that a single phone number be established for the homework hotline and that different students take turns receiving the calls, which could be directed to the volunteers’ cell phones. They are researching different technologies for routing the calls to volunteers who might have different areas of expertise.
Pooja Patel and Megan Harris also are working on a similar proposal to address the number of seniors who are struggling in their classes and at risk of dropping out of school. They are proposing a program in which students can receive peer tutoring before or after school. They suggested that National Honor Society members might offer tutoring as a way of earning service hours, which they are required to complete as a condition of membership.
“It was exciting to see that our students have some of the same ideas as our faculty, but from their perspective,” said Sheree Richter, guidance counselor at CCHS. “Now their next challenge is to back up their ideas with data and show that there is real interest among the students in their proposal.”
Patel and Harris noted that they were working on a survey to determine how many students would be interested in the program. They are also collaborating with students in Joe Vessels’ agriculture class in designing an outside courtyard that would be used as a tutoring area as well as an Internet Café.
Tom Stephens, principal of Carroll County High School, recently shared some of the students’ ideas with the faculty to determine how feasible they might be. Stephens said that he has gotten positive feedback so far.
“If we are really about kids, then we need to listen to what they have to say and find out what they need,” said Stephens.
Stephens said that he uses the members of the leadership class as a student advisory committee and believes that all of their ideas have potential to improve student life at the school.
“If students are the ones experiencing problems or know other students who are, then they will also know whether a proposed solution will work,” Stephens said. “It’s one thing for faculty and staff to come up with solutions, but if students are involved in the process, you usually have a better solution.”
Nora Fremin, Lauren Holloway and Erin Spradlin identified the problem of student involvement in the school as an area needing improvement and believe that more time during the day for club participation would get students more involved.
“Many students work or play sports after school, so it’s hard to get club work done after school,” Fremin said. “If students had more time to participate in clubs, they would feel more like they were a part of the school.”
Stephens said that he would like for the leadership students to conduct more research to work out the details of putting their ideas into action.
In fact, some of the ideas are already being implemented. Brandon Stewart, Brandon Franklin and Chase Osborne believe that students do not always know what is going on in school and would like to improve communication at the school. The group has already set up a Twitter account and invites the public to follow them at “CCLiveWire.” Their first tweet on Sept. 26 said, “News Feed for Carroll County High! Student run program! No need to block!” Their 32 tweets have mostly provided updated sports scores and recognition for students and school groups that have earned various honors.
“Ms. James [superintendent of Carroll County Schools] wants us to be agents of change and for our students to develop skills in communication, critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity,” said Richter. “Our leadership class is giving students the opportunity to develop all of these skills in a real work setting.”
According to Eaglin, the leadership class at CCHS is a full-year course open to all students committed to “making a difference in the lives of others.” The purpose of the class is to serve the school and community by volunteering; fostering an environment of intellectual, social, and personal growth; and evaluating their own potential as a leader.
“During their school years, students must develop a sense of self that comes from recognizing their successes, failures, abilities, and limitations,” Eaglin said. “They need to learn to reach beyond themselves and to live out our school motto: ‘Enter to learn. Leave to serve. Return with honor’.”
Jeff Fremin is director of public relations for Carroll County Public Schools.