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.
Volunteering is a big aspect of academic life; it not only helps out with hours, but it also aids in building skills such as empathy, commitment, and it opens an opportunity to play a bigger beneficial role in the community around us. As known, many students look for volunteer opportunities, that is why I have interviewed Mrs. Danielle Newbold, responsible for Miles To Go, a charity organization that operates in the Orlando area.
1.How did MTG start? What was the original idea?
"Miles To Go began one afternoon at a red light on the corner of Turkey Lake & Sand Lake Rd. There was a panhandler there asking for money. Miles was in the backseat telling me to give him cash. "I know you have some Mom, why aren't you giving him any?!"
I had been putting this conversation off for awhile. Miles was not letting up this time and was getting quite upset. So I told him, "We can't be sure how he will use the money." Miles had the solution, "So then we need to give something else!"
We went home and brainstormed items to give. We googled, used our common sense and knowledge of our local weather. It was a great start!
Our original idea was to do this as a mother/son community service project. It didn't take long to realize that we were meant to do more!
Our first 150 empty bags were donated by Orlando Body & Movement Therapy. It was there that the name "Miles To Go" came to us as well.
From there we became a 501(3)(c) and have now packed/donated over 600 bags!"
2. How can the community help MTG on a daily basis?
"The community can and has been of great help! You can simply save your hotel shampoos, add a couple MTG supplies to your weekly grocery order, order from our Amazon wish list, order through Amazon Smile (.5% goes back to the charity of your choice), attend a packing day, host a supply drive…..so many options!"
3. What is MTG's goal?
"Our goal has been the same since the beginning; Spreading love one bag at a time. We do not have a monetary or quantity goal. We just want to help as many people as we can. We do that with our gift of a Miles To Go bag to the homeless & also by growing compassion in the person giving the bag out."
4. Can helpers get volunteer hours? How can they be a part of MTG?
"YES! Helping our youth is one of our favorite things! We love assisting you get your hours and growing compassion while you do it! You can do a supply drive with your club, team, church, family, so many options! You can also help in by getting supplies ready for packing (like folding t-shirts, pairing items, numbering cards, etc). Social media is a big one too! You can spread awareness, share our Amazon wish list and so much more!"
5. Do you have any future plans regarding the future of Miles To Go?
"On the horizon we have a brunch at Plancha (the Four Seasons) November 4th where a portion of the proceeds will be given to MTG & a packing day November 15th. Both are open to the public. We are excited to announce that Miles To Go was selected by Visit Orlando to be the philanthropic feature at their event in Tallahassee this December!
We are set to do a large school fundraiser in Ocala in February, are partnering with local schools and doctor's offices in Orlando, Windermere & Winter Garden and can be found in local gyms as well!"
*After that, if interested, I recommend you to find more information about Miles To Go and be a part of this amazing project in order to get some hours, help the community, and be a part of many smiles that come with the bags. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to let me know!
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.
Dance marathon is a movement that has swept the U.S with the goal of raising money, spreading awareness, and showing the power of dancing and fun. WPS held our first dance marathon last year, called Lakerthon, and we raised over $35,000. It was an absolutely amazing experience, and we are hoping to make this event grow every single year. As most people don't know everything about Lakerthon, I figured I would summarize what Lakerthon is, the benefits, and how it makes a positive impact on our community.
Lakerthon is a fundraiser for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals that raises money for sick and injured kids. We raise money specifically for Arnold Palmer and Winnie Palmer here in Central Florida, so you know exactly where your money is going. We fundraise throughout the school year, leading up to Lakerthon night, which this year will be on February 1st, from 5-11 in the WPS gym. We have a bundt cake fundraiser, poinsettia sales, a spirit week, and so many other opportunities to raise money. It is an all school event and we try to connect the LS, MS, and HS in order to make the biggest impact.
On the actual Lakerthon night, there is dancing, food, games, and hearing from miracle families who graciously tell us their story. Everyone at the event stands for the whole night as a symbol for kids in hospital beds who can't stand. "We stand for those who can't". We commonly use the phrase #FTK, which means "for the kids", meaning that everything we do is for them, and all money raised goes towards helping them.
We raised $35,000 last year, but our goal this year is $60,000. This isn't possible without all of our miracle makers and the support of our community, both inside and outside of school. We encourage anyone and everyone to participate in Lakerthon, because there are so many ways that you can make a miracle in a kid's life.
One thing many Windermere Prep students don't realize- you can take the electives or courses you want online even when the school doesn't directly offer them and still have it count as one of your class periods. If Windermere Prep isn't offering a course or elective you're passionate about/really want to take part in, you do have the possibility to take that course during the school year! There are many options offered as to what you can do to ensure you're taking a course you're excited to learn about. For example, I am taking a film course, and a photography course online this year. I am taking these classes because I'm extremely passionate about these subjects, and unfortunately, Windermere Prep does not offer them as a course. But, I don't have to let that restrict me from learning about what I want to do! It's awesome that Windermere Prep encourages their students to do what they're interested in, as they want their students to succeed, so I advise you to take advantage of this.
Here are some things to consider if you're interested:
-You must talk to your counselor, and have them approve it. This is crucial! They must understand why you want to take the course and how it will benefit you in the future. Your counselor can discuss options with you as to what platforms meet Windermere Prep's standards/work best for you.
-You need to be prepared to do work on your own. Online courses are relatively independent, so being self motivated is a must. An online course is still a class, and there are assignments and tests that may be due each week. You need to plan accordingly and allot time each week to complete assignments as you would for your classes at Windermere Prep.
-If you do end up taking an online course in place of one of your electives or other courses, you may be permitted early release. Since I am taking two online classes, I have early release each day, as I don't have a 6th or 7th period. This may not work/be ideal for every person's individual situations, but it is something to bring up when speaking to your counselor.
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!
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.
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.
I happened to be born a girl in the 21st century, and into a family that loves me unconditionally and provides me with anything I need and most any opportunity I want. From the beginning, I've truly lived a spoiled, blessed life. 17 years later, the only thing that's changed, somewhere in between then and now, is that I have 75 sisters from Sahasra Deepika (SD)-- a non-profit organization dedicated to providing a home and a quality education to impoverished and orphaned girls in Bangalore, India. These girls are no different than me in intellect, creativity, or capacity. The only thing separating us is a factor out of any of our controls: the socio-economic circumstance we were born into-- a factor which, unfortunately, limits opportunity.
Realizing all that I have in comparison to so many around me heightens my gratitude and appreciation for the life I live, and spurs me to take advantage of what I've been given and use it to enact change and lend a voice to what I am passionate about-- which happens to be women: women's empowerment, education, rights, and parity. I do confess, however, that at least to me, the pursuit of all these efforts sounds a little too idealistic to realistically tackle. But I have realized, largely because of what I've learned from spending time at SD, it's up to girls and boys alike to somehow, in their own way, turn these idyllic ambitions into tangible realities. This, I believe, should be, in some capacity and upon whatever issue they connect to, the goal of us millenials of the 21st century.
However, it's easy to go into any altruistic endeavor feeling some level of pity, or maybe even guilt because of what you have compared to those you want to help. I know this is oftentimes the mindset I hold. But it's equally important to realize what they do have, or even what they have that we don't. We cannot amplify humanitarian causes so much that they, as virtuous yet very broad forces, overpower the humanity within the individual you're connecting with: they are not just hopeless cases who know and have nothing but misfortune or darkness. Such a mindset causes a psychological disconnect, and can hinder you from connecting at a real, personal level. I have learned this from forming deep bonds with the girls at Sahasra Deepika, as friends and as sisters. True, we ask each other about where we come from, and exchange in what people might call more meaningful conversation, but we also talk about Taylor Swift. We sneak to the roof of the neighboring high school and see who can drink the water out of the coconut the fastest. We are real with each other. We are friends. And I think of them as no less, or no less capable than me. They are intelligent and they are talented: they're artists and they're athletes-- they've even beaten me, a varsity track runner, in running races, with me in my Nikes and them in their bare feet. And they have self-esteem and dignity, which I think is more resilient and stronger than mine, as it has been weathered and tested, broken down and built back up.
These traits of resilience and strength, nourished even more within the girls by the caring environment of Sahasra Deepika, should serve as paradigms for the rest of society. These are the qualities which transcend geography, religion, culture and sociology-economic class-- they are ones which should be universally adopted and developed within all of us, for they are the requisites of enacting lasting and effective change, and are vital in both kindling and sustaining the deepas— the lights— within us all to serve as lights of hope for all of us brothers and sisters.
You can learn more about Sahasra Deepika at http://sdie.org/
Life is a pathway of choices, and the one who makes those choices is you. Whether you make the choice, someone else influences your choice, something influences your choices, the final result will be produced from you. There are times where you can turn your choices back, but most of the time, you cannot turn your choices back. Your one choice could lead to profitable and good results, but that one choice could lead to a series of mistakes and even a disaster. According to research, decision making suddenly changes when you reach puberty, and change slowly when you enter the twenties. I believe that the most choices made during the high school life is whether you should drink and do drugs, and I believe that the choice you make in the situation stated before will affect your future. Do not look for a situation that is only a step ahead. LOOK at a few more steps and imagine what your future could look like due to your one choice! I really hope for you to not make the decisions that may affect your future in a bad way.
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!
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.
I hope everyone has an amazing New Year! I would like to thank Valentina G., a 12th grade student mentor on our site, for suggesting blogging which will add a unique aspect to Reach A Student. This already proves the importantance of peer to peer help and support.
Our goal at Reach a Student is to help the students at Windermere as much as possible by providing tips and help from a student's perspective. Answering questions is a great way for students to connect and share with one another, however, the knowledge shared is limited by the questions asked. Blogging allows students to share their thoughts more freely and anyone can provide their peers with whatever information they think would be beneficial.
Since I believe that every student has some kind of insight that could be useful to others at WPS, anyone can contribute their own personal entries to the blog. I can even make your entry anonymous if you choose to. I also believe that the WPS teachers have valuable experience from when they were students (for example, how they faced and overcame an obstacle that a student might be facing today), so I reach out to all WPS faculty and hope you will contribute to our blog.
If you would like to submit a blog entry, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.