Fo­cused young peo­ple mak­ing a dif­fer­ence

Siloam Springs Herald Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By Janelle Jessen Staff Writer jjessen@nwadg.com ■

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

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