Building a better community
Fitch students work to help several community organizations.
By IAN HILL
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
AUSTINTOWN -- For Fitch High School students like Brittany Hians, life isn't all about hanging out with friends and having a good time.
It's also about serving the community.
"Just helping someone's day, it's a good feeling," said Hians, a 17-year-old senior.
Hians was among the students in Fitch's National Honor Society who helped put a new coat of paint on street signs in the Wickliffe neighborhood Saturday. It was one of two community service projects Fitch students took part in that day.
Students in Fitch's Interact Club also helped put siding on a house being built in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity for a family on Bruno Street on Youngstown's West Side.
The house is slated to be constructed entirely by Fitch staff and students, including those in the school's Spanish and Latin clubs, the National Honor Society and industrial technology and consumer science classes.
"Anything that we can do to make the community better ... is a good thing to do," said National Honor Society member Mike Brown, a 17-year-old senior. Brown added that for him, helping out in the community is a matter of "personal pride."
More than fun
Hians said she hopes the work will help break the stereotype that teens are only interested in having fun.
"I think it's a good way to change the all-around view of students," she said. "When we get involved in things like this, it shows we're interested in helping people."
Hians noted that in the past she's also volunteered with Relay for Life and the Jessica Moorhead Foundation for Hope, which raises money to help young people with cancer. Brown said he's served as a volunteer referee for youth basketball games in the past.
Interact Club President Mike Shane, an 18-year-old Fitch senior, agreed with Hians that the students can help break stereotypes through community service. He noted that the Interact Club's mission calls for club members to work to better their community and help the less fortunate.
"What better way to do that than help build a house?" Shane said. "I'm just trying to give back to the community."
Interact Club is associated with Rotary International. Jill Martin, a Fitch government and economics teacher who until recently served as the Interact Club adviser, said club members also work with Relay for Life and the Rescue Mission of Mahoning Valley. The club also has raised money for Second Harvest Foodbank of the Mahoning Valley.
"All the little things these kids do are valuable to the community," Martin said.
Heather Carcelli, a Fitch English teacher and the National Honor Society adviser, said National Honor Society also has worked on recycling projects and on events for Tod Children's Hospital.
The effort to paint street signs in Wickliffe stems from 20/20 Austintown, a plan that lists several projects that can help improve the community.
Carcelli said National Honor Society will be doing additional community cleanup projects as part of 20/20 Austintown in the future.
Fitch Latin and English teacher Lillian Quaranta added that when students volunteer, it reflects well on the entire community. Quaranta said the Latin Club, which she advises, has worked on Habitat for Humanity houses in each of the past five years.
Hians, Brown and Shane all stressed that they expect to continue to take part in community service projects when they're in college and later in life.
"I'll be involved, no matter where I go," Brown said.