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June 15, 2010 > Arroyo High students earn Jefferson Award

Arroyo High students earn Jefferson Award

By Shavon Walker
Photos By Shavon Walker

Some believe that today's teens care about nothing more than the latest style or hottest celebrity. At San Lorenzo's Arroyo High School, however, one can see that this is not true. Students in Action, one of the school's small learning communities, has not only shown that teens care but has been recognized nationally for their efforts.

Students in Action is "a club that tries to promote volunteering." The group's beginnings were small, but there has always been a lot of hard work involved. "Their first project was a survey. Students wanted to find out how much volunteerism was already being done on campus," said advisor Diane Thompson. "The top three areas were the environment, children, and homelessness," added group member, Michelle Rojo. "We were surprised that those were the most popular, but it helped shape our fundraisers."

This year, Students in Action decided to become part of the Jefferson Awards, also known as the Nobel Peace Prize for community service presented on a national and local level. Politicians and celebrities have been honored with this award; high school students can also receive it for volunteer service. The group was awarded a bronze banner, an outstanding honor for a first year participant. Dana Patterson, commented, "It's a really big deal. We were one of only three schools in the nation to receive it."

Volunteer efforts are wide and varied including an Earth Day beautification effort on campus and Hands for Hunger, raising money for a local food bank.

In recognition of their efforts, Deloitte Accounting hosted and paid for leadership training classes at Arroyo in which the group learned marketing tactics, how to lead a group, and how to get other schools involved. The students also learned how to communicate with the press.

Why does this group spend weekends giving food to the homeless or cleaning up their school instead of playing video games or chatting with friends? Eli Shepherd summed it up, "Being part of a group and watching people be helped because of us. That would be my sales pitch."

Find more information about Students in Action at: www.jeffersonawards.org/studentsinaction.

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