After gaining new experiences from a statewide conference, a group of Clinton High School leaders are ready to make a positive impact on younger students in Clinton.
The formation of INSPIRE, a peer mentoring group, is currently in the works. INSPIRE is an acronym for Independent, Navigation, Self-worth, Planning, Involvement, Readiness and Empowerment. Through the group, participants hope to spend time visiting middle and elementary schools to work with students. It began when they attended the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s Student Leadership Conference at Pfeiffer University. Every school system in the state was invited to attend the conference.
“We had different people come talk to us about service learning projects,” said Thalia Plata about attending. “It’s good to donate cans and stuff, but that doesn’t really fix the problem. You have to make a change and continue on. That was one of the main reasons we were there, to learn how to do service learning projects, so it can continue and not just a Band-Aid fix.”
During the five day event, participants from all grade levels gathered together to learn about producing a service learning project. Some of activities, presentations and features of the conference included poetry, healthy habits and assisting on a farm where people with autism worked and lived.
Along with her CHS classmates, Maya Simmons enjoyed traveling to the college. One of the activities she remembered was learning good health habits as a teenager.
“It was nice,” Simmons said. “It taught me different ways to approach healthy teenage living.”
Toni Blount, CHS college advisor and scholars coordinator, assisted the students during the trip. She believes opportunities such as the leadership conference will put students at a different level when it comes to their ability to critically think.
“It’s much more than just learning information,” Blount said. “It’s about learning a concept and gathering their ideas to make a project come to life.”
In the process, Blount said the students were nominated by a teacher, club supervisor or guidance counselor for showing a unique form of leadership. The students involved are involved in different organizations in the school. Some of the talents, activities and interest among the students include singing, technology, politics, athletics, Student Government Ambassadors, Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) and the Ebony Club.
“You can see why they were nominated,” Blount said referring to the variety of leadership and work outside the classroom.
Along with Blount, students gathered recently at the CHS media center to discuss the new organization.
“It’s going to be the way they return their knowledge and high school experiences to younger students, even as young as fourth and fifth grade,” Blount said.
Dayln Padgett said she enjoyed working with her peers during the conference and forming a better connection.
“We worked really well together to make our INSPIRE team and how we really need to make an impact in our community,” Padgett said.
For Alecia Bennerman, it was a different way of learning which included hands-on activities.
“Most of the time, you have traditional learning which is sitting and listen to someone,” Bennerman said.
Min Kim said interacting with other participants allowed him to learn about different points of view.
“I think it opened my perspective about how to do certain things when it came to service projects in the community,” he said.
Nominee Jaalen Best was unable attend the trip, but is looking forward to help out with INSPIRE.
“I hope we can bring this together, make something out of it and help this community and the high school and go forward,” Best said.
The INSPIRE group received an informal invitation to return next year and present the project. She hopes future participants can continue the group in the future.
“We have mostly rising seniors because we needed students who have been through the process for 12 years to be the role models,” Blount said.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.