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.
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.
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.
If you've ever found yourself floundering to maintain your grades, barely getting by the first week of school, follow these tips and strategies I have cultivated over my past two years as a high school student at Windermere Prep.
Time management and Organization
When school, sports, and other extracurriculars get crazy, time management is key to maintain a good learning experience. As a high school student, or a student of any grade, you need to recognize what needs to be done urgently and what can wait. The best way to do this is by finding a system of organization. Whether it be a planner, Google doc, or a notebook, find a place where you can organize everything that needs to be done into categories: mandatory work, extra work, questions you might have, due dates, reminders, notes, etc…This will let you know exactly what you have to do, when, and what's coming up.
Talk to your Teachers
As much as you don't want to believe it, your teachers are here to help you! Don't hesitate to ask them for help after school or during SRT. A key piece of information worth remembering is that when you actively invest in your education, your teachers will notice this and think of you more often, finding ways to help you and always keeping in mind what you might need. They will come to you with more detailed suggestions and resources.
Review, Review, Review!
The best way to lighten up on studying for a final, midterm, or even a test or quiz, is to constantly review. Create a system where you review your classes, whether it be 15 minutes daily for each class, or a couple hours on the weekend. Doing this keeps the knowledge fresh, which will ultimately help you study effectively for big cumulative tests or exams. This will also keep you from cramming, giving more time to process the information. When you do this, studying is truly just review, not relearning!
Prepare for Classes
Another great way to stay on top of classes, especially challenging ones, is to introduce the next topic to yourself with some light textbook (or whatever resource is best for the class) pre-reading. This sets up the unit for you and puts you at an advantage. Don't worry if you don't understand at first, when you begin learning with your teacher and other students, your questions will be gone! This gives you more time to understand and process the concept.
Make use of your Resources
This might be obvious, but don't overlook any resources your teachers give you! These resources are an opportunity, use them wisely! The most accessible and best ones are those added by your teacher on Canvas. One of the best and most useful resources I have found is the canvas calendar. With all your future assignments and tests listed, you can see the exact workload for the upcoming weeks and plan accordingly. If you still find yourself struggling with the class, ask your teacher for more practice or good websites. You can also do your own research and find websites and books to help.
Take Good Notes and be an Active Student
Arguably the most important of these tips is to be an active member of your class. If you have questions, ask them! They are most likely legitimate questions that everyone else also has. They also might bring up a good argument or sub topic that needs to be addressed to avoid confusion later. You might just be doing everyone a favor when you ask questions. You should also try to make connections and share ideas to the class, as this could facilitate a well-rounded discussion with your peers. Lastly, take. good. notes. Find what works best for you and stick with it. This could be hand written notes, flashcards, typed notes…anything! Good notes does not necessarily mean copy every word down. Good notes are ones that summarize main ideas and include key details. You might also want to analyze the information you have and apply it in different ways to test your understanding.
Learn, do not Just Study
Make sure your priorities and reasons for studying are well-intentioned. Do not just study to attain the "perfect grade". Understand the information given to you, and be able to apply it. This is how you truly make use of what you learn in school.
Recognize the Importance of your Education
As much as we think the things we learn in school are useless, and while we might not remember them or use them later, that doesn't mean we shouldn't learn them! The benefit of learning something "useless" is not in its content, but in the skills developed and used. These classes teach us to think critically, analyze the information, and apply it. Attaining knowledge at our level is an opportunity, so seize every minute of it, whether you think it minuscule or not. And perhaps the most important piece of advice I can give you, do it for yourself. Do it for your self-improvement, for your enrichment, and for your enjoyment. Find what makes you love learning and pursue it, no matter if it isn't the safest bet. Be a reasonable risk-taker. No matter what you pursue, if you do it whole-heartedly, you will find your way to success. Enjoy what you learn and do it to become the best version of you, to become a well-rounded and worldly citizen. And remember, grades are not the final and only measurement of intelligence. As long as you are trying, improving, and working hard, your grades will reflect that. If they don't, there might other aspects of an education that you are stronger in, and those are just as important!
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.
While I was in Hong Kong this summer, I not only had the opportunity to meet some of the people in the Nord Anglia Education Leadership Team, but I also got to visit one of the Nord Anglia schools in Hong Kong - The Nord Anglia International School (NAIS) located in Lam Tin. Hong Kong is a former British colony and there is a lot of European influence in the city and at NAIS.
The principle of the school, Mr. Brian Cooklin generously gave me a tour of the new school, which just opened this past September (2014). Mr. Cooklin also allowed me to interview him for Reach A Student and share his insight. Besides the school tour and interviewing Mr. Cooklin, I was also able to interview a Year 5 teacher, Mr. Williams, and his student Ava.
This year was the school's first year operating as a new school, and I must say that it was amazing how developed they were for a school still just 9 months old. Prior to becoming the campus of the Nord Anglia International School, the property was previously used as a Catholic Boy's School and when that school moved out, Nord Anglia was awarded the space to use. I learned that there was a lot of construction that needed to be done and everyone worked very hard to get the school ready in just a few months for new students to begin classes last September.
The learning environment is really beautiful and the students and teachers I met were all very nice and welcoming. NAIS follows a British curriculum and that might be the biggest difference between the Nord Anglia International School and Windermere Prep. I spent a long time looking at a lot of their students work, much of it on display in the corridors and I can tell you that it is all of very high quality. Mr. Cooklin explained they use Nord Anglia Education's High Performance Learning techniques and I was very impressed by their approach.
Another difference that I really like was how they separate students in the school into 4 houses; Windsor (red), Sandringham (yellow), Caernarfon (green) and Balmoral (blue). These are the names of grand homes and castles in the United Kingdom. When students do something well, they are given a colored token that represents their house which they deposit in clear cylinder at the front of the school. The cylinder with the most chips at the end of the year wins, so there is a lot of team or house spirit. These houses also compete in school competitions against each other throughout the year. I thought this house system was really unique and fun.
All their classrooms were well designed and the school had excellent learning facilities. They had a gymnasium similar to ours at WPS, an Art room, Computer Lab, A full Science Lab, Library, Music Rooms and so much more. I saw students doing drama, playing in their playground where Mrs. Cooklin had painted a beautiful Panda and so many other things you might see at a school in America, only this wasn't America, it was all in Hong Kong – a city on the other side of the world from Windermere Prep. Needless to say, I was beyond impressed and it makes me happy to know that we are now a part of the Nord Anglia family of schools.
If you would like to see some of the photos of my tour of the Nord Anglia International School, please click the main image and scroll to see many more.