Unification News for May 2004

Big School-- Big Opportunity

Kaeleigh Fefferman

A big school means a big opportunity; a new school means a new opportunity. That's what I thought as I entered my sophomore year at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, Maryland; and I was right.

I entered my 4000-person public school as a new girl who had grown up in a faith-based private school, which had less than 25 kids per grade. It was quite the leap. Coming into school I knew I wanted to make my mark, I wanted to challenge myself to see the potential I really had. I wanted to combine everything I loved doing, and offer it to the people at my school. So, I started my quest.

The first step was coming up with a club name and purpose, more commonly known as a mission statement. After much prayer, deliberation, and discussion I decided I wanted to combine Service for Peace and WAIT (Washington AIDS International Teens), which would ultimately create an abstinence/ service club. When I finally decided to name the club 'You Choose' everything was perfect, all I needed was a teacher sponsor. Shouldn't be too hard right?

It took me a month of asking teacher after teacher if they wanted to sponsor my club until I finally found him, Mr. Brady. He didn't seem like the type of person who would be interested in the save-the-world type club, but he was, and he agreed. With that we had our first meeting on October 1st, 2003. It was pretty exciting to hear our announcement over the P.A. system, and it was even more exciting people actually showed up.

One of our main goals was to have an AIDS Awareness Day at our school and have the whole school participate. We did it and it was amazing; December 10th is a day that has been engraved in my mind forever. For 8 straight periods our WAIT team performed in the Auditorium for about 7 classes every period. If you do the math it basically means almost the entire school watched our presentation. By 8th period all the students were singing our songs with us and screaming out the answers to the game show; I saw a transformation in the audiences every time we performed. Plus we had around 10 guest speakers go into classrooms and speak about HIV/AIDS and the importance of abstinence, as well as tables with information set out during the lunch periods.

After one of the most exhilarating days of my life I finally felt like my school knew who I was, and I loved it. The next day everyone at school recognized me, and all my friends were blown away by our amazing performance. Teenagers don't realize that you can be abstinent and be proud of it, but our AIDS Awareness Day gave them that opportunity. All of a sudden I had all of my friends asking me how they could join the WAIT team, how they could help out, and what they could do to prepare for the next event like the AIDS Awareness Day. Mr. Brady was totally inspired, I really think I saw him glowing as he gave us free pizza to end the day.

Aside from planning that event, our club does service projects every other week. We work with a boys and girls club and have just recently begun working with a teen center in Washington D.C. Through goal settings and reflections our club members have had amazing transformational experiences. They have been given the opportunity to be a true older brother or sister; they're really making a difference in the lives of teenagers who come from broken families and have dropped out of school. It's amazing, and it's an atmosphere they all appreciate being in; I can see it in their eyes as they share their reflection for the day.

I can actually be proud of my school because of the work we're doing through the 'You Choose' club; I don't know how many other 2nd Gen can say that. It's ownership like I've never experienced before, it's absolutely out of my comfort zone, but it's exactly what I've been looking for. I choose; I choose to be abstinent, I choose to make a difference, I choose to impact my community, and I have others who choose with me.

You Choose...

What are you gonna choose?

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