Changing the world, one project at a time
Sep 21, 2018 04:03PM
● By Jana Klopsch
McKenzie Capito, Anna Cloward and Katelyn Madden, hid golden tickets inside wads of trash to encourage their peers to clean up garbage in the school hallways. (Jet Burnham\City Journals)
By Jet Burnham | firstname.lastname@example.org
National Junior Honors Society members at Providence Hall Jr. High School have been improving their school, one project at a time. Now they are ready to improve the Herriman community and, ultimately, the world by saving one life at a time.
“Our NJHS looks for things that are missing or that aren’t working, and we devise a way to alter it and create workability around it,” said adviser Kevin Rocque. “We start out at the school level, and then we go out into the community, and then we look to ultimately impact the world.”
Last year, NJHS members looked around the hallways of Providence Hall Jr. for a project.
“We noticed our school was trashed,” said Anna Cloward, a seventh-grader. “There was so much paper and trash strewn along the hallways. We decided to come up with a project to encourage students to pick up trash.”
Members devised incentives for students to clean up after each other. They planted a special piece of trash—one with a golden ticket (golden tape) hidden inside it—in random locations throughout the school. Students who picked up the trash and found the golden ticket were rewarded with candy.
To keep students motivated, NJHS members also created a game called Trashy Words. Each day, a letter was hidden in a piece of trash. The letters filled in the blanks of a “trashy word” displayed on a hallway bulletin board. As letters were added, students guessed what synonym for the word trash was being spelled out.
The incentives worked.
“I saw a lot of students hunting for trash,” said Anna.
The outcome was a clean school.
“Our principal and janitor were singing our praises,” said Rocque.
Another issue they tackled was lack of respect for the flag. NJHS members noticed their peers had become complacent about the Pledge of Allegiance. Each morning, a student body officer led the school in reciting the pledge. It was rushed and sloppy; many students weren’t even bothering to stand.
“It was a chore in their minds,” said Madelynn Weber, an eighth-grader. “So, we were trying to make it less than that and more respectful.”
NJHS held an assembly to introduce their Patriot Honor project, inviting Maj. D.J. Gibbs from Camp Williams to speak to the student body about patriotism.
“Major Gibbs pointed out who we’re really disrespecting,” said McKenzie Capito, an eighth-grader. “I think that added more context and depth to it because I don’t think they realized when you’re disrespecting the flag, you’re disrespecting everybody who’s fighting.” Now, NJHS promotes patriotism and respect with regular mini-lessons.
Students’ attitude toward the Pledge of Allegiance has improved.
“I have seen a huge improvement,” Anna said. “I haven’t seen one person stay sitting down for the pledge.”
As an SBO, McKenzie often leads the school in the morning Pledge of Allegiance.
“We’ve started allowing a lot of time for students to stand up now,” she said. Allowing five to seven seconds has eliminated the clamor of students’ chairs overlapping the pledge. Anna said that moment creates an awkwardness that deters students from remaining seated.
The big project for this year (that will continue into the next few years) is “Don’t text your name on a tombstone,” a campaign to reduce accidents caused by distracted drivers. The members are currently brainstorming ideas to distribute a visual reminder, such as a tombstone-shaped sticker to encourage drivers to silence their phones before they get behind the wheel.
They are inviting the community to get involved. They will first reach out to Providence Hall High School and ask their NHS to spread the word to teen drivers there. Ultimately, the students are hoping to solicit support from local fire and police departments to distribute the reminder stickers. They hope to work with car dealerships, as well and, possibly, to invite fast food restaurants to market meals in driver-friendly packaging.
“I think it’s just simple things that can lead to a big effect,” said Anna.
The students feel that if their campaign can prevent just one person from driving distracted or save even just one life, it will be worth it.
“Just affecting one person, we can end up affecting the entire world,” said McKenzie. “Making one person realize how important our flag is, making one person realize how important it is to have our school clean—they’ll tell their friend about that, they’ll talk about it, they’ll know it in their hearts, and it will spread.”
Rocque loves to sit back and watch his students develop, execute and promote their projects.
“I design everything around these kids getting an extraordinary experience with leadership and making a difference in the world,” he said.
Rocque said the National Honors Society prepares students for college and leadership experiences. Last year, two of his students received $500 scholarships from NHS for their extraordinary work.
“These kids are amazing,” he said. “We’re dealing with some powerful future leaders here. They’re going to make a huge difference in the world.”