Focused young people making a difference
Siloam Springs High School juniors in Maria Conroy’s Advanced Placement Language and Composition Class are finding out that even though they are young they can still make a big difference.
Conroy’s 47 students, who are divided into three separate class periods, are finishing year-long projects with the goal of achieving change in an area they are passionate about, she said. Students have chosen causes ranging from raising money to help homeless people get needed to supplies, to starting a compost program at the school.
This is the fourth year that Conroy has included the project in the AP Language and Composition Class. Her goal is to show them they can make a difference, she said.
Chloe Oxford and her partner Madison Myrick are organizing a walk for the American Foundation
of Suicide Prevention.
Oxford explained that both she and her partner have been affected by suicide and both of them wanted to raise awareness about the issue and to raise money to help fund scientific research and provide resources and aid to those affected by suicide.
Many people don’t realize how big a problem suicide is, Oxford said. Nationally, suicide is the second leading cause of death for young adults.
After doing some research, the two students decided to partner with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to host
the fundraising walk, Oxford said. The foundation has held walks across all 50 states and more than 250,000 people have participated, according to the website www.afsp.org.
The local suicide prevention walk will be held on May 6 at the middle school track. Registration will begin at 9 a.m. and the walk begins at 10:30 a.m. and ends at 12:30 p.m. There are no registration fees for the walk, instead the goal is to collect donations and raise awareness, Oxford said. Oxford and Myrick are also planning a silent auction.
Part of the money that Oxford and Myrick raise will be donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and part of it will be used to help fund suicide prevention training for teachers in the Siloam Springs School District.
Oxford and her partner began work on the project at the beginning of the school year. Oxford said the biggest things she learned from organizing the walk was that with determination she could take an idea and make it into something.
Conroy said her students were given minideadlines every two weeks throughout the year. These deadlines involved doing research to find the right topic, conducting interviews with people they could partner with in the area, country or world, and setting their own goals they dreamed to accomplish, she said.
“They learn how to set their own goals, how to manage time and how to watch deadlines and meet them,” Conroy said. “But most importantly, I want them to realize that even though they are young, they can make a significant difference in the lives of others. These kids are going to be world changers, and I would love to give them some momentum now.”
Conroy said she has spoken to college professors about the project, and they appreciate the fact that these students leave the class with some experience about how to dictate for themselves how they will accomplish a task.
Cymber Anderson centered her project around raising money for the Sebastian County Humane Society. Anderson designed stickers and socks, which will be sold at the suicide prevention walk on May 6.
Helping animals has always been a passion of Andersen’s, who said she is always bringing home strays. She works at ProVet after school, and has done volunteer work at the Sebastian County Humane Society, where a close family friend works.
The experience has helped her realize just how many animals are in shelters, with more arriving every day. The Sebastian County Humane Society currently has more than 30 dogs with heart worms, a condition that is very expensive to treat. Anderson hopes to raise awareness about the problem and raise money to help pay for the animals’ medical treatment.
Chandler Losh and Elyse Perdue are partnering with the Women’s Institute of Secondary Education and Research (WISER) to collecting books for libraries in Africa that help young girls get an education.
Losh said that she and her partner chose the project because they were looking for ways to directly help girls in third world countries to get a better education. Any type of book, including fiction and non-fiction, for readers in kindergarten through grade 12 will help the cause, they said.
“Any kind of reading is beneficial to them,” Losh said.
Losh is hoping to collect at least 200 books for WISER. She will be collecting books from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 6 at the Siloam Springs Public Library.
“I think I learned that if you have something you care deeply about, you need to take action and work for that and support that,” Losh said.
I think I learned that if you have something you care deeply about, you need to take action and work for that and support that. Chandler Losh SSHS junior