From discussing human trafficking and the needs of veterans, to helping orphans and the homeless or providing clean water overseas, seniors at Christian Life School showed Monday that they care about making the world a better place.
This was the first year the school’s 55 seniors took part in the yearlong Senior Capstone projects, which required them to research a topic, develop an action plan and write a final paper.
On Monday at Journey Church, they showed their work to the community.
“The idea is to give a biblical perspective about God’s plan for the world and all the brokenness,” said project instructor and coordinator Kathi Derse. “It helps them to see the given gifts they possess and their ability to join with work all over the world.”
Students made their own projects or researched what they could do to augment the work of established organizations in nine countries from the U.S. to Africa.
Some collected money to donate or help fund a project like Kylie Miles, 19, of Winthrop Harbor, Ill. She always wanted to be a teacher, so she collected over 500 school supply items for a Racine elementary school.
Mike Carroll of Winthrop Harbor, Ill., purchased gift cards and sold them, with a percentage going to help purchase a new soundboard at the church.
Others were inspired from their own experiences, like Neha Charily, 17, of Pleasant Prairie, who had lost her home in a fire. “I know what it felt like,” she said.
She raised $500 for gift cards that firefighters in Libertyville, Ill., could give to families who also lost their homes and belongings in a fire.
Kenoshan Sarah Jurewicz, 18, decided to research sexism after her own experiences.
“The most memorable for me was I went to Gurnee Mills, and I was cat-called 12 times,” she said. “It made me realize how often it was happening. It was not a fun experience.”
Focus on veterans
Others were inspired by people they knew. To Kenoshan Cameron Hall, 18, this meant making a short film interviewing veterans as he felt many younger people didn’t pay attention to those who served their country.
He is updating the film, “Remember Their Stories,” to include his uncle, an Iraq-Afghanistan veteran who has post-traumatic stress disorder. It will be available on YouTube.
“A lot of millennials and my generation, a lot of their friends, don’t see that side of veterans,” said Hall, who plans to study filmmaking at Michigan State University. “They may see Memorial Day, and they just blow it off.”
Many also wanted to address specific issues meaningful to them.
Sarah Derse, 19, took her six months of mission work in Tanzania to heart. As an adoptee, she wanted to help other adopted and foster children by writing and illustrating a children’s book, “A Little Star’s Journey.” She hopes to distribute it to kids overseas.
Maya Gibson, 17, of Zion, Ill., studied various African-American inventors and others who were overlooked in history, as well as discussing cultural views in her project, “How Racism and Whitewashing Affects Culture.”
“You don’t realize racism until it’s brought to your attention,” she said. “As kids, we’re not learning our own history. I didn’t know any of this. I didn’t learn it in school. This is meant to help kids be able to know more about their history and improve their well-being.”
Visitors like Kenoshan Janice Steinacker, who is a host mother for one of the international students, found the presentations interesting and appreciated what the students were doing.
“It’s wonderful to see young people think about the needs in the world and have an impact for good,” she said.