Published in print and online at The Auburn Journal September 15, 2009
At the beginning of the year John Adams asked his students to dedicate themselves to the greater good.
In the wake of the 49 Fire, they did just that. Adams’ Placer High leadership class stepped up to help their community, proving themselves equal to the challenge.
The class collected about $3,500 for fire victims at a fundraiser on Sept. 8, according to class treasurer Brigitte Creencia. The evening’s festivities included a battle of the bands, a barbecue and a volleyball game that pitted superhero-costumed teachers against the girls volleyball team. Adams said donations are still coming in.
Immediately after the fire the class set to work making a plan to help victims. The students determined the names of their classmates who’d lost their homes in the fire before the front office did, and spent the day calling local restaurants seeking gift cards to ensure the fire victims wouldn’t go without lunch. The class raised about $850 in gift cards and collected clothes for the students affected by the fire, Adams said. He estimated that overall they’d raised about $5,000 for fire victims.
Adams says his students are currently involved in another project to provide long-term emotional support to the fire victims at Placer High. The class put out a call to students and their families to donate copies of photos they have of the students who lost their own pictures in the fire. Leadership students will compile photo albums for those kids, preserving memories they thought they’d lost.
In addition to fire fundraising, the students in the first-term leadership class have had a lot of projects to keep them busy.
“We kind of just run everything,” said junior Richelle Rock.
Junior Riley Stoltenburg said she and some other juniors recently formed a committee to help welcome new students to Placer High. They also mentioned the class’s involvement with the “smoothie crew,” where leadership students aid the special education classes in collecting money for smoothies they make and sell in classrooms on campus.
At the moment, the major focus is homecoming week. On Monday the class voted to choose a theme and spirit days. Adams, who is new to the leadership class this year, said he was surprised by the extent to which the students were involved on campus.
“What I was amazed at was how much they do that I never knew about,” he said.
He emphasizes three steps with the students in their projects: big goals and small steps, make their day, and finish strong. Adams hopes these guidelines will teach the kids to produce successful projects that have a positive impact on each student at Placer High, and to work with others. For example, he said, the class “finished strong” at the rally last Friday by doing a thorough job cleaning up afterward, so they wouldn’t be a burden to the janitors.
As for the students themselves, they appreciate the opportunity to have a part in running the school. “It’s fun being able to make decisions and have a say in what’s going on,” said senior Elizabeth Keim.
Originally published in print and online The Auburn Journal