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Henderson Collegiate freshmen give back with service


Mark Dolejs / Dispatch Staff Henderson Collegiate students Timpani Bullock (from left), Nakya Evans, Ti’Yiana Hawkins and Ja’Dashia Steed sort clothes at Lifeline Outreach as part of their community service day.

Ninth-graders at Henderson Collegiate High School participated in the school’s first day of service.

For about three hours Wednesday morning, 95 freshman from Henderson Collegiate donated their time and energy to various organizations and causes throughout Vance County.

“We want our students to make their community a better place,” Laura Bradley, high school college counselor, said. “It’s their responsibility to take care of their community and help it grow.”

Bradley said she worked with the United Way of Vance County and other community partners to find a variety of places where students could volunteer. Once the sites were confirmed, Bradley said students chose where they wanted to go.

Students could choose from several volunteer options, including reading and tutoring at Carver or Pinkston Street elementary schools, help prepare and serve lunch at Area Christians Together in Service, help build ramps with Rebuilding Hope or provide general assistance at Lifeline Outreach.

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Mark Dolejs / Dispatch Staff LaCarter Harris Jr. uses a nail gun to attach a board to a frame that he helped make with Cliff McClanahan (left) and Bob DeMarco (right) on Wednesday morning. They were building a wheelchair ramp at a home on Horseshoe Bend Road. Ninth-grade students from Henderson Collegiate High School spread out across Henderson for a community service day.

“Any interests the students had, we tried to represent them as best we could,” Bradley said. “This is a great opportunity for our students to step back and see how they could best help others. This also gives our students cultural capital and allows them to explore potential career options.”

The school-organized volunteer event also helps students complete some of the 60 hours of community service required for graduation.

High school Principal Jackson Olsen was with a group of students on Horseshoe Bend Road assisting with the construction of a ramp.

“This is the first time some of them have held a hammer or a shovel,” Olsen said. “This is a new tradition for us, and we’re really excited. This is the heart and soul of who we are.”

The students gathered around as Cliff McClanahan of Rebuilding Hope distributed safety gear, materials and instructions.

“This is great,” McClanahan said of the students. “It teaches them how to work. It teaches them that there are needs in the community. It teaches them that it’s good to help others.”

McClanahan said this is the organization’s first time working with Henderson Collegiate, but they hope to make it an ongoing partnership.

Olsen agreed and said the start of the high school marked the start of a new chapter in Henderson Collegiate’s service to the community.

“One of our values as a school is service and community,” he said. “We knew that when we started the high school that we wanted to start a new tradition that gets our students out in the community. This is our beliefs in action today.”

While some students dug holes for posts for a ramp, others cleared the surrounding area of debris and moved materials into place. Simultaneously, students at Lifeline Outreach on Raleigh Road were busy sorting children’s toys, folding clothes, and sorting and shelving food.

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Mark Dolejs / Dispatch Staff While other students build a wheelchair ramp at a home on Horseshoe Bend Road, Cliff High (left) and Destany Hawkins load trash on a truck as they help clean up the property.

Jennifer Robertson, high school dean of students, was with students at Lifeline and said the day of service also reinforced an ever-present idea at the charter school.

“At Henderson Collegiate, we say that everything is earned in life. Nothing is given,” she said. “We really have to work for it. In doing things like this, it helps students become better people and understand that everything is not always right at your hands.”

Nakya Evans, 14, was one of the volunteers. She sat at a table with some of her classmates at Lifeline Outreach sorting and folding clothes.

“It feels good to know that it’s all for a good cause,” Nakya said. “When you see people, and know that they’re coming in and looking at things that you just organized or sorted, it just makes it a better experience.”

Like Nakya, Ti’Yiana Hawkins, 15, said it was her first time volunteering for an organization like Lifeline Outreach, but she enjoyed it.

“It’s a learning experience for me because I know there are less fortunate people, and it helps me appreciate what I have,” Ti’Yiana said. “I’m appreciating the moment and having fun with what I’m doing.”

Contact the writer atĀ jwhitaker@hendersondispatch.com.

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