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Helping hands lead to growth through experiences

By AARON HATTER

Boyle County High School

Students are often eager to give back to their communities, but most do not know how to get started. One class at Boyle County High School offers many opportunities for its students to get involved.

Special education teachers Tina Henry and Brittney Barnett have found a way to incorporate community activities into their curriculum. Several times a month their students help at the Bluebird Market and Morning Pointe Senior Living, donating their time to assist the residents. Both of these activities create a sense of independence for these special students. “One of the biggest things we do is try to have the kids be as independent as possible, so they can be prepared for life after high school.”

Henry, who has been teaching seven years in this role at the high school, is thrilled to arrange these opportunities for her students. “The volunteering at Morning Pointe is a favorite for the kids. The last time we were there, we actually had one of our kids read a book to a group of residents.”

The students really love the interaction, from handing out cake at a birthday party to independently volunteering to spend time in the Alzheimer’s unit with those living with this terrible disease. The students greatly benefit from the process as much as the residents, because the interaction helps to build necessary social skills needed for a bright future.

Another popular activity offered to Henry’s seniors is lending a hand at the Bluebird Market. The students will go in on Wednesdays to assist with arranging products for Saturday’s open market. Their involvement enables the nonprofit organization to get a head start for the upcoming sale.

“Many of these students will end up with some type of job after high school and this is a great opportunity for the seniors of the class to get work experience and a feel for the environment they would be in.”

Another opportunity for Henry’s students is shopping for the BCHS school store, which they have been doing for the past two years. Once a week, the entire class travels to Kroger to shop for products that are needed by the director of the school store, business teacher David Christopher. “They are always helpful and very excited to do it. You can tell they look forward to the trip every single week as they enjoy going to the store and finding the items,” says Christopher.

Not only are they helping Christopher’s school-based enterprise, but these students are also learning important money skills while becoming smart consumers.

As with any teacher, Henry loves to see their enthusiasm. “The students love to help out in any way they can, they will do any task that is asked and they will do it with smiles on their faces.”

Growth for young people certainly takes place through real life experiences, and these students are no exception. Peer tutor Rachel Leath shared, “They all work extremely hard to be where they are right now, so that proves that they want to be helping and preparing themselves for life after school.”