Teens in the i3Academy organize campus-wide project
Elected officials could take lessons from the students in the i3Academy at Flagler Palm Coast High School -- lessons on how to tackle and complete a project in record time.
“It was a school wide project. Everyone pitched in a lot got done.” student Logan Johnson
The academy students participated in a “break out” program, spending one week focusing on one issue. The issue was homelessness in Flagler County.
“In each classroom we focused on a different thing,” student Logan Johnson said. “I was in Mr. M’s class (John Mastropierro), and we put boxes all around FPC. We collected $53.33 for the free clinic in Bunnell, and we have successfully collected it, and it’s been donated.”
The week-long project, which was only four days since the students didn’t have school on one day, was kicked off with presentations that brought home the seriousness of the situation.
“Coach Bossardet (assistant principal Robert Bossardet), came into talk to us and told us there were 47 students at FPC that are homeless,” student Haylie Shiflett said. “We wanted to help, and so we filled boxes with things they could use. They’re family – they’re part of our school.”
The group learned that these classmates are considered homeless because they do not have a defined place to live.
“They may have people they can stay with, but it’s not their home,” Haylie said.
Logan described the project as an “eye-opener,” and it was, on many levels. Not only did the students research and learn about the problem, they learned first-hand the challenges of enlisting the help of others, especially businesses. They also learned that there are always those willing to rise to the challenge.
They’re family – they’re part of our school.” student Haylie Shiflett after learning about 47 classmates who don't have traditional homes.
“We were making boxes to fill with health products,” Haylie said. “We called different stores and a dentist office to see if they would donate toothbrushes and toothpaste. The dentist office was the most helpful; the others had to call someone else (for permission).”
The biggest donors were the staff and students at the academy and on the FPC campus.
“Right from the beginning we decided to make 60 boxes -- 47 for our own students," Haylie said. “The students donated also, and we ended up with twice as many toothbrushes and toothpaste than we needed and donated the extra to the S.T.U.F.F. Bus.”
Nutrition was the focus of Elora Haynes group, tasked with finding a way to incorporate nutritious meals into the boxes.
“We started off asking restaurants and stores to donate food and see if they could do a buy-one, give-one, so if someone bought a certain item on the menu it would be given to the Sheltering Tree when they need it. We were hoping the restaurants would give gift cards or vouchers so they could go and get a good meal.”
“A lot of the restaurants weren’t sure, and some hung up on us,” student Julianna Burns said. “They didn’t want homeless people coming into their restaurant.”
But not all responded in that manner, one local restaurant offered to make sure the students reached their goal of 120 cards.
“Some were way more helpful than others,” Haylie said.
Coordination of services was something that Emily Morris’ group found lacking.
“We focused on mental health and substance abuse, and created a website and consolidated all of the information on where to go, like the free health clinic and shelters around the area, to get help,” Emily said. “Before all the information was everywhere and wasn’t easy to find.”
The information was also included on a pamphlet created by another group for distribution throughout the county, and included in the boxes given to the Sheltering Tree in Bunnell.
“We were on jobs and opportunities and we designed a website where people could look so they could make some money,” Julianna said.
The project wasn’t contained within the hours of the school day. All of the students said they were noticing the people in their community more, and had enlisted the help of their families to donate food, warm clothing and blankets for winter.
“It was a school wide project,” Logan said. “Everyone pitched in a lot got done.”