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Learning to do for others
Learning at Franklin County Schools is about a lot more than just the Rs.
There’s a fourth R, and it stands for Responsibility, the civic and moral obligation to do for others in your community.
While gift giving at Christmas time showcased these efforts, community service by Seahawks is a year-round thing.
Take for example, Franklin County High School freshman Bradley Page, who is a student in the Navy Jr. ROTC program. He has been serving as a volunteer intern with the Camp Gordon Johnston World War II Museum in Carrabelle Beach, helping with archives and promoting the museum’s activities.
On Dec. 4, he joined with members of the museum’s board of directors in taking part in a museum promotion at the Mission BBQ in Tallahassee.
“Bradley is terrific,” said Lisa Keith-Lucas, an active volunteer at the museum.
Students with the National Honor Society have spearheaded blood drives at the school, and the results have shown steady growth.
Under the direction of NHS Sponsor Kathy Strunk, the 2020 blood drive was able to break the previous record. “We had the first blood drive since COVID -19 out of any school in the Panhandle,” she said. “Our goal was 13 pints, but we got 18!”
But that wasn’t the end of it.
The outcome for the 2021 blood drive? Twenty-two units of blood were collected.
“A big thanks to our school and community for helping us reach our goals,” said Strunk, reminding everyone to mark their calendars, as the next blood drive will be Thursday, Feb. 3, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in front of the school.
NHS also worked to make a phenomenal contribution to the UF/IFAS annual Peanut Butter Challenge, a project in concert with the North Florida Peanut Producers Association, to help alleviate hunger by collecting peanut butter for local food pantries. Franklin County ranks above the state average in the percent of residents experiencing food insecurity and households with an income below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
Senior Maddison Whitten, with the help of the NHS chapter, made it her senior project to give back to her community, by spreading the word about local hunger and how to take a bite out of it. Collection boxes were placed in classrooms and around the FCS campus.
Friendly competition was encouraged with the incentive of a pizza party, with pizza donated by BJ’s Pizza for the class with the most peanut butter. Those three class winners were Mrs. Brock’s elementary school class, Mr. Cowart’s middle school class, and Ms. West’s high school class.
“The response from fellow FCS students, parents, teachers, and school administrators was astounding,” said Erik Lovestrand, Franklin County’s extension agent, noting that during the one-month collection period, the school amassed over 800 jars of peanut butter, totaling 1,004 pounds. “Many families around Franklin County can take a bite out of hunger this year, due to the thoughtful efforts of one high school senior who spread the word that caught fire. This volume of nutritious, healthy peanut butter going to local families is an incredible accomplishment for a small rural school district.”
Other collection sites at First Baptist Christian School, UF/IFAS Franklin Extension Office, Sportsman’s Lodge, 4-H Making Strides Club, and Gander’s Hardware gathered peanut butter as well.
All told, when the extension office tallied the county’s collections, it came to an amazing 952 jars totaling 1,178 pounds, with the Florida Peanut Producers Association pledging a matching donation to add to the county’s pot.
The National Honor Society isn’t the only group reaching out to help the community.
The FCS Senior Beta Club, under the sponsorship of Candace Sheridan, made ornaments, cards, and candy bags for the residents of St. James Bay Health and Rehab on Dec. 13, and then delivered the gifts on Friday afternoon, Dec. 17, just before the residents’ Christmas party.
They also collected blankets, socks, and hats for the senior citizens at the Holy Family Center, and distributed them Jan. 3.
Members include Meredith Alford, Skylar Layne, Cameron Nash, Brendon Polous, John Sanders, Jeremy Shuler, Samanatha Anderson, Kelsey Martina, Marina O’Neal, Leo Rudd, Austin Segree, Annie Smith, Tyra Jackson, Shalyn Massey, Nathan Pearson, Rachel Rudd, Mahaley Shuler and Jaelyn Tipton.
Officers are Genesis Jones, president; Sage Brannan, vice-president; Maddison Whitten, secretary; River Sheridan, treasurer; and Myia Maxwell, historian.
And of course, over Christmas, FCS spread holiday cheer and gave gifts to 66 Seahawk families.
“That is huge! I am thankful for the Giving Tree donors, Lacey Hamm for spearheading that initiative, and Morgan Martin for taking the lead on the Christmas Connection partnership to give back to our students and adults in each household,” said Superintendent Steve Lanier. “I would also like to recognize an anonymous couple who spent $700 on gifts for our families. We appreciate you, too!”