The students that volunteer their time and knowledge on Reach a Student are eligible to receive community service hours. We are looking to expand our roster of academic and athletic mentors, interviewers, and video editors to help inspire and answer school-related questions.
Reach a Student is a website established to give students direct communication access to student mentors in various grade levels. Students will be able to reach out to other students and ask any questions they have regarding student and campus life. The site will also stream videos of students sharing their experiences at Windermere Prep as well as activities around campus.
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Recently after traveling to downtown Orlando, I noticed there were more homeless people than usual. My mom told me a lot of shelters were at capacity and many homeless were forced to live on the streets. Things got worse over the next few weeks and I realized that while I could not change the situation many of the homeless people were in, I could give them food to help them during these hard times.
With COVID I could not distribute food directly to the homeless, but I discovered a program called Service and Love Together, SALT who I could volunteer with. SALT not only provides food, but also mobile showers! The volunteers went above and beyond and also gave the homeless an opportunity to wash their clothes. I saw this as an opportunity to combine two things I am passionate about: cooking and service.
I contacted SALT and they granted me the opportunity to create snack bags. My 100 snack bags were filled with oranges, granola bars, and waters. I handed these bags out while people were waiting for the main meals. I watched as different people came up and received a bag. They were so thankful for such a small item. The compassion they showed to each other and to the volunteers was moving. To them, it didn't matter where you were from; they just wanted to take care of each other.
I continued making snacks and meals for SALT on a weekly basis. One of the most touching moments that left me with an indelible impression was a cute woman with a red flowered fishing hat. She approached us as we were walking back to the car and complemented how much she loved my mom's shoes. I smiled at her and told her how these were my mom's 20-year-old shoes that had lasted her through everything. I watched as the woman listened intently and told me about her shoes which were torn and ripped in all different places and how they had lasted her only 7 years.
When I got home, I got to work scourging all the closets in the house looking for old shoes. I ended up compiling 18 pairs of shoes amongst everyone in the house! The following week when I went back to SALT to hand out food and shoes. I gave the woman with the red hat the shoes she loved so much, hoping that my mom's shoes would last her another 20 years. :)
SALT is an amazing place to volunteer and they have a variety of duties to be involved with! If you enjoy cooking, they love to have people make meals and donate them. However, there are other ways to help like donating clothes, snack bags, and shoes! Don't hesitate to reach out and see ways you can help.
Our lives during the COVID-19 pandemic have changed drastically. Everyday new information is released about prevention and what can lead you to have a higher infection rate. Consistently, throughout all the information, seniors (people over the age of 60) have a greater chance of contracting the virus and becoming seriously ill when exposed to COVID-19. After learning this, I thought about my grandparents and how they could potentially be affected. In order to keep my grandparents safe, my parents and I brought them all the supplies they needed including masks, sanitizing wipes, hand sanitizer and groceries. I continuously saw why nursing homes and assisted living facilities were the highest risk for a dramatic spread of the virus: I felt compelled to help them in some way. I learned the best method to prevent the spread of disease was the use of PPE (Personal Protection Equipment), especially N-95 masks. As I called a few local senior assisted living facilities, I realized they did not have the proper supplies for their staff or residents. After researching manufacturers, I was able to find a local company selling N-95 masks. I organized a fundraiser and was able to raise enough funds to purchase 100 masks.
Donating PPE to The Commons Senior Care Facility was similar to a child in a candy store. Nurses and residents were ecstatic to be able to protect themselves and residents. They came running up to me and I was instantly surrounded by eager faces wanting PPE. They were so thankful for the small amount I could provide, just so they could do their jobs. Additionally, to help keep the residents safe, I invited a local doctor to speak about the proper ways to reuse masks and prevention of COVID. I hope my minor efforts to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 helped keep someone's grandparents safe.Even if you are not a healthcare provider, there are many different ways to get involved including sewing masks, donating masks, and even just showing your appreciation for healthcare workers.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, our daily lives and schedules have changed drastically. Many people are stuck at home unable to go to their jobs or see family and friends. These changes have caused many of us to feel emotional and affected our health. We are unable to workout at gyms, and I think we can all agree that being stuck at home has led to a lot of unhealthy eating habits. With my extra time I have been cooking and baking everything that comes to mind! After a couple weeks of this I realized how unhealthy I felt. I had thrown out my workout schedule and stopped being productive in my day. I realized I needed to take care of myself, we all need to take care of ourselves! The below is a list of things you can do to feel better during quarantine.
a. Working out should be an important part of everyone's day. It allows for the release of endorphins which makes us feel happier. Even just walking for a few minutes outside every day will improve your health and fitness. Exercise also helps keep a schedule in your life. During these troubling times, there is little to no schedule and it makes us feel lazy. By working out, we can reintroduce structure into our lives and start getting back into our daily routines.
2. Eat Well
a. When we are stuck at home it is easy to always feel hungry especially when you are bored. If you are like me and found yourself constantly snacking, instead of eating chips or cookies try to eat some different things.
i. Instead of chips have apples, the crunch of an apple is pretty similar to that of a chip.
ii. Instead of cookies, have a banana and peanut butter.
iii. Instead of having ice cream, freeze some grapes as snack.
iv. Instead of eating Takis or Flaming Hot Cheetos, have wasabi peas.
There are healthy alternatives for everything you want and you just have to find the right snacks for you.
b. Avoid caffeine if you don't normally drink it. Caffeine is a stimulant and jump starts your brain and heart. It also creates a dependency. Once your brain uses coffee to get a jump start you will see yourself needing it more and more to keep yourself awake caffeine can make you jittery and anxious too.
i. Instead of consuming caffeine have a smoothie with some fruit yogurt and ice. It will energize you just as much as coffee!
By making these small changes you will see yourself feel so much better and happier during quarantine.
At a young age, I was fortunate to be able to attend a STEM after school program with one of my teacher's Mr. Falcionie. In school, Mr. Falcionie's science class was always my favorite because the class allowed me to work with my hands, critically think, and stimulate my deepest creativity. I was blessed to have access to this after school program, which allowed me to further my interest in the STEM field. I realized at a young age, this was something I wanted to work in for the rest of my life. This year, I had the opportunity to volunteer at Riverside Elementary, a Title 1 elementary school. I helped mentor 4th and 5th grade students, predominantly younger girls, on their LEGO robotics team afterschool. This opportunity allowed me to impact the next generation of learners and spark their interest in STEM - just like Mr. Falcionie did with me. I built a team of female STEM students to aid in providing individual mentoring.
As a group, we got to mentor and work with individual students. We taught them the benefits of trial and error and the concept of analysis. As mentors, our job was to foster independence while supporting them in learning STEM skills. Furthermore, we taught the students valuable skills such as communication, teamwork, and responsibility, which are all vital to success in STEM.
The most powerful moment for me was not seeing the complete robot, but seeing the robot take its first steps and fall. The kid's faces did not waver through this mishap, showing me their determination and their ability to problem solve. Leading up to that day when parts would break and mechanisms failed, the students would get frustrated. We took these opportunities to show them how to work with a failed result. Instead of letting their emotions get the best of them, they learned to ponder why the robot failed at its mobility and how to come up with a solution. The moment when the robot fell is one that I will always cherish because I could see the students actively applying our teaching.
Furthermore, the experience of mentoring was truly rewarding to me and it can be for you too. It is a great way to make an impact and help others. In order to gain experience in mentoring, tutoring can teach you how to work with all different types of people and also valuable skills you can utilize as a mentor.
Do you know what you want to be when you grow up? When we apply to college, many of us pick a major with a career path in mind. One of the best ways to experience different careers while in high school is shadowing.
My first experience shadowing was in the field of cardiology with a Dr. Dinesh Arab. I had seen the patient side of going to the doctor but I had never seen the doctor's perspective. The day was fast paced, with the doctor moving from room to room seeing over 20 patients in a day. I marveled at the doctor's ability to remember every patient's specific details and conditions. I asked Dr. Arab how he was able to do this and he told me, "Every patient has a different story and when you learn a little of that story you can easily remember who the person is and what has happened to them." He saw his role was more than fixing the physical ailments but also anything else bothering the patient. He also made it a part of his job to create a personal relationship. This reminded me of my own pediatrician who always said, "When you are talking to a patient they are 50% telling the truth and 50% lying, unless you create a personal relationship you won't be able to allow your patient to feel safe and talk to you openly." I saw the applications of this in Dr. Arab's office as he was always able to openly converse with his patients on any subject. I aspire to one day have similar doctor-patient relationships.
This shadowing experience taught me about patient care and allowed me to see a different aspect of medicine. A majority of the job is being able to communicate face to face while also being able understand the symptoms and deduce the issue. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Dr. Arab, and it reconfirmed my decision to go into medicine.
Try shadowing and see if that is what you would like to be when you grow up!
Recently, I had the opportunity to do some research at UCF ( University of Central Florida). This experience gave me the opportunity to work in a more formal setting and see what the STEM field looks like at the college level. I worked with a UCF graduate student on noble metal dichalcogenides, NMDs. These are the combination of the noble metals and chalcogen groups. The combination of these elements can be used to create advanced parts in electronics. Much of my time spent there was reading and analyzing papers, along with, working on projects involving the creation of graphene. If you would like to see and experience what it is like working at the next level in STEM, then becoming a volunteer in a lab is a great place to start. If you reach out in March/April, many professors will be able to help you set up a project for the summer.
Linked here is a presentation I created about NMD's. If you have any sort of questions regarding research or professors please don't hesitate to ask.
My third year playing under Coach Wood was one to remember and was one of the peaks of the program. With our entire team returning we could pick up exactly where we left off and this led to us being extremely successful. As we played harder teams and played more public schools we saw that we were one of the best teams out there. Our rankings in the state rose to 6th among 3A Florida public schools. Our continuous work and effort allowed us to gain a spot in the playoffs. Not bad for a 0-12 team 2 seasons prior! Our apex was winning our district championship, a crowning achievement for our team. Reflecting back on this season I credit my team for helping me grow in maturity, selflessness, discipline, responsibility, confidence and trust. Go Lady Lakers!
I am very lucky to have known my maternal Great Grandmother, Moti Dadi. Her selflessness allowed my family to come to America. She followed her four children to the United States, and practiced customary Indian tradition by living with her eldest son. Unfortunately as she got older, they were unable to provide her the standard of care she needed. So at the age of 89, Moti Dadi, was moved to an assisted living care facility.
My family and I went to visit her as often as we could. I looked forward to our chats, which while she was in pain always started with her asking me, " How are you?" with a beaming smile. One of the last times I was able to sit with her - instead of her asking how I was, I got the chance to ask her. She told me about the hardships she faced: from large issues such as not being able to communicate with the staff to small issues such as her socks never making it back to her room. I wanted to reciprocate the care she had always shown me and asked my parents to write words in both Gujrati, our native language, and in English so whenever she needed help she could point at the English word and get the assistance she needed.
She mentioned how her socks always seemed to get lost in the dryer and she struggled to stay warm. I wrote her name on them with a Sharpie but this didn't solve the problem, after a couple of washes the letters began to fade. So then I embroidered her initials on the sock! After I left her with several pairs of embroidered socks, she called me to tell me that she was receiving all of her socks. I was so happy to provide her a little more comfort.
While talking to other residents at The Commons, I told them about my great grandmother and her story. Many of the residents had similar stories where they left their home countries to come to America in search of a better life or just to be closer to their families. I noticed while they were speaking many of their socks were miss matched and they also expressed a similar situation to my great grandmother's. So I began to make embroidered socks for each of the residents.
This experience has been a reminder of how small gestures can also be impactful. If you are interested in helping the local community, the assisted living care facility is a great place to start! The community is welcoming and always open to talking.
I have always had a sweet tooth and love making cookies even more, especially at Christmas time. One of my fondest memories growing up was when my whole family would put on Santa caps and decorate the tree. My mom would hand me and my two brothers ornaments to hang up while my dad videotaped us. During the holidays, I always looked forward to not just the decorating but the sweets. While holiday music played and we finished decorating the tree, my mom would make us a batch of chocolate chip cookies and peppermint hot chocolate (two of my favorite things). I was luckily to always be assigned the role of "taste tester".
While doing my monthly visit to The Commons senior care center I noticed many of the residents were not in "the holiday spirit." I asked them about why they were feeling so mellow, and they expressed how they missed their families during these times. When I heard this, I could not even begin to imagine what it would feel to spend the holidays without my own family. To cheer up the residents, I decided to bake them homemade cookies and ask them about their own holidays and traditions. I heard from different residents who spoke about how their families did similar things to mine. We bonded over these similarities even though we were from different backgrounds. They spoke with such a reminiscent tone of the times they enjoyed. Many missed caroling, so I took them caroling to their fellow residents' rooms and we ate my homemade cookies together. We created our own holiday traditions which I plan to experience with them next year, come join me and spread some holiday cheer!
This summer, I had the opportunity to volunteer at my local hospital in Dr. Phillips. My job, as a volunteer in the ICU, was to answer phones, transport blood capsules, and organize medicines by patients' names. After finishing those tasks, I was left to observe the environment around me. On one of my weekly visits after I had finished my assigned tasks, I saw a doctor struggling to communicate with his patient. The patient was an elderly man who only spoke Spanish. His family also spoke very little English. The doctor tried to communicate with the family but he realized the patient's family couldn't understand him. He stepped out of the room to place a call to the translator line to help him. After twenty or thirty minutes, a translator came to the room to help the doctor and the family understand what was happening. I was shocked at the length of time they waited and asked my dad, a physician, if this was a usual occurrence. He told me "oftentimes, doctors can not speak the same language as the patient and aren't able to provide the best care they can because of the language barrier." Additionally, doctors struggle to convey emotion and empathy in the same way they can with their English patients because many are forced to use Google Translate if they cannot afford to wait for a translator. This unfortunate circumstance showed me one of the major problems plaguing the healthcare community. I researched translation programs which would allow doctors to provide a similar level of patient care.
Day Translation: This is a medical translation service in which doctors can call and a HIPPA certified translator will translate and convey more meaningful information to both parties - doctor and patient (family). With live translation tones, pauses and dialectics are expressed more effectively than a robotic translator.
iTranslate: This is an app which will allow the doctor to speak into the phone and hear themselves speak out loud in the language they desire. This app seems to allow for a quicker method of communication while also allowing for more complex discussions and hopefully more empathy and emotion.
These two programs allow doctors to provide a similar level of care to their non - English speaking patients. Since Windermere Prep is partly international boarding students these same applications may be extremely useful to teachers as well. To promote camaraderie in and out of the classroom students should use these apps to get to know boarding students better!
Contrary to my 8th grade year, this year's team was very successful. I was adamant not to give up on playing softball even though the previous year we had was disheartening. We had developed very good team chemistry despite having no wins and we were feeling confident of having a better season. People seemed to sense this and wanted to be a part of our team. We had some experienced players come to our school and join our team furthering our enthusiasm. Having these skilled members, allowed our team to position players by skill not by necessity.
Our team and coaching staff worked together like a well oiled machine. Our compatibility coupled with a desire to win led to a change in our record from 0-12 to 10-6. As a dedicated, experienced member of the team, I was awarded the position of team captain, as a 9th grader. I continued to encourage others around me and I was determined to be the best teammate I could be. To improve my skills, I would take time after practice to do extra drills on the field or in the batting cage.
After my first event, the Special Olympics Basketball Clinic with Windermere Prep, I decided to host another Special Olympics Clinic with the track team. I hoped to have an equally successful camp but there were fewer WPS Athletes than at the Basketball clinic. The disproportionate ratio of WPS Athletes to Special Olympics athletes made me nervous and I wasn't sure how this camp would turn out in comparison to the basketball camp. After starting the camp, I realized this could be one of the most successful camps because the coaches got the chance to work directly with the athletes, which changed the environment of the camp. Instead of the WPS players doing a drill next to the players, they were leading a group of Special Olympic Athletes. The WPS track runners displayed patience when teaching and persistence in making sure Special Olympic athletes were learning new skills. The Special Olympics' athletes were eager to learn and when they struggled used the experienced players around them to gain help. Even though I felt unsettled by the fact there was an uneven proportion of athletes to mentors, all the participants were excited to be learning and playing a sport they loved!
In the WPS Community, there is very little awareness about special needs children. The goal of these camps is to increase awareness among our local community and allow both groups to bond in their commonalities. As my camps continue to grow, I hope they will provide a platform for an inclusive environment for Special Olympics.
Growing up with 2 brothers and no sisters made me an automatic sports lover. The one thing which brought us together was football. My desire to learn more about the medical field and love for football led to me to accept a position as an athletic trainer for Windermere Preparatory School Football. Even though I always watched football on Sunday nights, I never knew athletic trainers played such a vital support role in the game.
Every day after school, the student athletic training team would prepare for practice, which consisted of filling up water and Gatorade jugs, wrapping wrists and ankles, and tending to sore joints and other practice injuries. Contrary to the popular belief that the Student Athletic Trainers are "water girls", the truth is there is much more to the job. Being a member of the team means consistently being ready to help any player. The toughest job during games was blood and wound duty - in 30 seconds we had to change gloves, stop any bleeding, and wrap a player's arm!
Student Athletic trainers had to oversee the well being of all the players on the field on both sides of the ball. Being a member of this team has taught me how to be an effective communicator. Lack of communication, would oftentimes mean players were left with injuries needing attention or players not receiving any water. For different types of injuries, we would have hand signals to bring out certain equipment. Our ability to communicate effectively when a massive injury occurred was potentially life-saving for the players.
Being a Student Athletic Trainer requires selflessness, dedication, and persistence. The team performing at its best is dependent on having athletes in the best physical condition during, before and after the game. This is a cornerstone of the commitment of a Student Athletic Trainer. If you want to be a trainer, please don't hesitate to reach out and see if you have what it takes.
Volunteering at the Special Olympics State Office was a very inspiring experience. While I only performed clerical work, I quickly learned how Special Olympics plays an integral role in the athletes' lives: inspiring confidence and teamwork.
When reading through feedback questionnaires from the athletes, one of the questions asked was: "What is your favorite part about playing sports with the Special Olympics?" The athletes' responses unanimously said they enjoyed playing and meeting other people. Many of them mentioned that they were alleviated of social anxiety when playing team sports.
Considering the benefits Special Olympics (SO) events had on the athletes, I was inspired to provide them more opportunities for memorable experiences. As a member of multiple WPS (Windermere Preparatory School) athletic teams, I knew about the extensive athletic resources and experienced coaches we have. I thought this would be an excellent way to use WPS resources. Furthermore, my peers would also get a chance to train and teach while playing a sport they loved. Thus, I conceived the idea to create clinics which integrated Special Olympics athletes with WPS athletes.
The first Special Olympics-WPS camp was with the WPS Basketball program. On the morning of November 18, 2017, WPS hosted its first Special Olympics-WPS athletics clinic, with 25 special olympic athletes and 44 WPS High School basketball players (3 teams of players). I did not expect such a large turnout. Each of the Special Olympic Athletes were paired off with 2 WPS Athletes. They worked together to complete drills and at the end participated in a scrimmage.
I witnessed not only the Special Olympics athletes laughing and having fun, but also my fellow WPS classmates. The WPS players were lifting kids up and teaching them how to slam dunk. They also took the opportunity to teach all the athletes the most important part of a game: the celebration dance. The coaches turned on music and the players formed a circle to watch. They took turns dancing and showed each other how to do different dance moves. As I watched this, I saw how the camps had the ability to create awareness and an inclusive environment.
As a school privileged with many skilled coaches, WPS was able to share its resources and help improve the skills of the SO players. While there were many differences between the Special Olympics players and the WPS players, their love for the same sport brought them together and created a lasting bond.
This camp created a welcoming atmosphere and allowed both groups to share a sport they love. After the camp, Coach Ben Wilson came up to me and said, "This was one of the coolest things I have been a part of and I want the Special Olympic athletes to be a part of our team at a game." Many athletes saw it takes one small connection to form a friendship. With more awareness and exposure to special needs athletes, I hope our WPS community will become more inclusive. I believe it starts with camps such as these.
If you would like to get more involved in the Special Olympics community, reach out to your county chapter and sign up as a coach or an assistant coach. In addition, the state office is always looking for volunteers. The Special Olympics are a great way to spread your passion for a sport while helping a good cause.
I unfortunately was not old enough to work at our local shelter. So I decided instead to come up with a drive to support animals. I spoke to my local community, handed out flyers and people brought toys and sealed bags of food to donate to ASPCA. We gathered round 30 bags of food and a hundred different toys to donate! When I dropped off these items, the staff told me how the dogs love the toys and the food helps them keep every animal who comes in fed. Next year I hope to be a Bark Buddy and help take care of the pets at the shelter. If you enjoy being around animals come and join me in helping the ASPCA!
Transitioning from the Middle School Student Government Association to High School SGA is a big change. I was a member in middle school and when I became a high school member I was able to see the increased amount of responsibility and commitment that was needed. In high school, even as a freshman, you play an integral role in all parts of SGA. While the transition is difficult, there are a lot of ways to continue your leadership and make sure your voice is heard.
1. Speak up
a. When you have an idea on how to make an event better speak up and make sure your voice is heard. It can be something as small as where tickets are sold to a change in venue. All of SGA appreciates ideas. If you really want to make sure your idea is considered, take some time and think through the logistics, and how things would work and then suggest the full idea. This will showcase your communicative abilities and make sure your ideas are approved.
2. Show Up
a. Be present at all events and make sure you encourage your friends to come. The more you show up and show you are dedicated the more SGA will notice.
a. Take the time to communicate properly. If you can't be present at an event make sure you email at least twenty-four hours in advance of your absence. Also making sure your thoughts and rationale are clear in meetings and emails, this is a sure way to succeed in SGA.
a. In High School SGA, you have to take on a lot of responsibility. This can mean everything from picking up supplies to helping lead events. To complete all your tasks make sure you do not take on too much. If you take responsibility for your job and your actions, you will succeed in SGA.
The change this past year from Middle School to High School SGA was difficult but don't be afraid to face the challenge as it will help turn you into the best leader you can be.
I have played everything from tennis to lacrosse. However, the sport that truly changed my life was softball. As an 8th grader varsity player I had little experience, was scared to play, and was unfamiliar with our new coach. "This is a new experience for a majority of us but let's start by taking it one game at a time," said my coach, JD Wood. Although he had experience coaching sports, he was inexperienced coaching female athletes. His leadership and time in the Army taught him how to lead us and unite us as a team, which was his goal for the season and ultimately inspired me.
This year, I started as the catcher. I had no experience in the position, but it fueled me to work harder and grow as a player. Even though I didn't particularly enjoy catching, I refused to give up and took my position behind the plate as I knew everyone had to play a role for the team to succeed. I was determined to help turn our losing team into a winning one; however, it was not to be. Despite being 0-12 and receiving a mercy-ruling every game, our team's spirit, energy, and unity never wavered. Coach kept our spirits up and rallied the team to continue to work towards improvement game after game.
Although this season was not our desired outcome, it taught me about being a leader and a teammate. Being a leader means demanding the best out of others and yourself. Through our year in WPS Softball, I also learned many valuable things from my teammates: selflessness, trust, confidence, respect and communication. Being a leader or a teammate on a WPS athletics team does not mean you necessarily are the best player but it means you consistently show determination and give your best effort through all of the ups and downs. If you are interested in being a member of the WPS Softball team, please be sure to come out to tryouts next season. We are accepting anyone who wants to learn and be a part of the family we are creating.
I am sure each one of you knows someone who is affected by Autism. One out of every 100 people have Autism according to the National Autisitic Society. (This does not include people who may have milder or spectrum disorders.) This disease is something which can affect anyone regardless of gender, race, or sex. I personally know a handful of children who have been diagnosed with Autism. The growing number of children being diagnosed with Autism is something which needs to be addressed within our society. Autism Speaks is a charity which not only helps people with Autism, but increases awareness and helps fund research to find a cure. Knowing three boys with Autism I chose to help Autism Speaks in its mission by raising funds for donation. In middle school I had always participated in fundraisers but this was the first one I would be doing on my own. I chose to raise money by selling something I love to do - bake! I got to work making brownies, cookies, banana bread, and even churros! I single handedly raised $137 for Autism Speaks.
While I know this is a small amount, I felt the bake-a-thon gave me a deeper understanding of Autism. As I baked each dessert and spent hours perfecting them, I realized this could possibly be a fraction of the time a person living with Autism spends struggling. The time and dedication it took to bake allowed me perspective into how difficult even simple tasks may be for a person with Autism. Ironically, baking for an organization that increases awareness, increased my awareness of Autism.
I have seen students be apprehensive to interacting with special needs kids, but raising money for a charity organization that is important to you is a great way to help out. Let me know if anyone wants to contribute to future peer support fundraising projects.