Parkwood students raise funds to make a difference locally, everywhere
Parkwood High School teacher Jennifer Bess has taught Global Awareness for some time, all the while feeling as if something were missing.
“We needed to add service,” Bess said. “What’s the point of learning about the world if you can’t help it out?”
Then after attending a World View Conference in the fall of 2009, she was inspired to incorporate a nonprofit club of sorts into the class curriculum. Her students agreed, and after submitting a business proposal to gain the principal’s approval, the Parkwood Rebelution was born. The group gets its name from the school’s mascot, known as the Parkwood Rebel.
Each semester, Rebelution challenges students in each Global Awareness class to devise a new way to help people in need. Targeting causes often overlooked or neglected by others, Bess encourages each class to help the local community in some way, while also reaching out to national and international groups.
To that end, Rebelution has planted flowers at the school, raised money for the local American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and supported Very Special Arts, an international nonprofit organization celebrating how the arts can change the lives of people with disabilities.
“Students often approach me with the idea for a project they have researched,” Bess said. She conducts her own research to ensure the legitimacy of the idea or group. A recent example is the school’s Socks for Japan drive, where Rebelution sent 335 pairs of socks to victims of the earthquake and tsunami that struck the island nation in March 2011.
Socks were an often-forgotten item that victims failed to pack in the moments that they fled, choosing instead more meaningful and important items like pictures, blankets and clothing. To advertise its socks campaign, students created a video and placed posters all across the school.
This semester’s class looked for ideas in a catalog produced by Samaritan’s Purse, the Boone-based international Christian relief and evangelism organization. The students decided to support something that can go on forever – water – and chose to raise money to buy water filters to send to Third World nations. Each water filter costs $100 and will last a lifetime, Bess said.
Fundraising efforts include designing and selling T-shirts; dinner nights at local restaurants, with Rebelution receiving a portion of the profits; and the recent “Lincoln Exchange.”
For Lincoln Exchange, the students mailed letters to relatives and friends, asking that in exchange for the affixed Lincoln penny they return a $5 bill, also prominently displaying President Lincoln. “A Lincoln for A Lincoln” has been a huge success thus far, with more $300 collected in just the first three days.
“I received two $100 checks in today’s mail!” Bess exclaimed.
The group will distribute funds raised this semester to the American Cancer Society, Samaritan’s Purse for water filters and groups supporting relief for Alabama tornado relief victims.
The book “Do Hard Things,” by teen authors Alex and Brett Harris, coincidentally defined a “rebelution” as a “teenage rebellion against low expectations.” Combating the idea of adolescence as a vacation from responsibility, the notion appears to be catching on at Parkwood High School.
If enrollment in her Global Awareness class is any indication, “Rebelution is sparking a revolution,” Bess said. “I used to teach just one class of Global Awareness each semester. This year I have taught four.”
To learn more or to support Parkwood’s Rebelution, contact Bess at 704-764-2900 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.