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Girard students give back to community to earn right to graduate

GIRARD — Some Girard seniors have decided to help out the community while fulfilling their graduation requirements.

In order to graduate, the seniors need a service project that can be anything the students are passionate about.

“It’s supposed to connect to the students’ future, what they want to do in the future. They have to have a research component and something that they actually do themselves. The goal is really to stretch them beyond their comfort zone,” said Maria Perez, senior project teacher.

A lot of the students already donate their time to organizations and decided to continue their efforts by adding it to their graduation requirement list.

Nick Malito sold crew neck hoodies, short sleeve and long sleeve shirts to benefit Gifts of a Lifetime. He’s raised about $750, which would sponsor seven kids. Knightline Embroidery of Girard plans to match the donation.

Kamlyn Valdez is working with the Warren Family Mission by holding a food drive.

“We’ve volunteered with them for years now. And coming from a single- mother household, we’ve grown up watching her struggle just to make sure that we were able to eat everyday. So it’s just nice to give back to the less fortunate,” Valdez said.

Alexis Cochran and Rachel Cunningham chose to help the Fairhaven Program. Cochran put on an Ace’s for Autism event for the Girard versus Ursuline tennis game. She also sold baked goods, bracelets, t-shirts and had a GoFundMe account, raising $1,000.

“An ace is when our team serves and the other team isn’t able to return the ball back,” said Cochran. “It’s always a touching moment for everyone. So I wanted to be able to give back to that.”

Like Cochran, Cunningham sold wristbands and other items, raising over $200 for the Special Olympics to help fund their uniforms and trips.

Other students chose to do something other than collect money or food items.

Jonathan Kosco chose to create a screened door for Birds in Flight Sanctuary. He chose this nonprofit because he believes in its mission and believes a screen door will help the birds get some fresh air, especially in the summer.

Preston Strain, who is very active in the theater program at Girard, decided to hold a talent show at the Windsor House Nursing Home. Strain and his friends entertained a full audience who loved the performance and sang along with the Christmas carols.

“I picked the nursing home because my grandfather currently lives with me, he has dementia, and I see how happy he gets whenever any younger people come in and talk to him. He gets really giddy about it,” Strain said.

The seniors are finishing up their projects and will present them at a showcase on Dec. 11 at the high school.

“It’s really rewarding to combine something we have to do with something that gives back to people,” Kosco said.

bshiller@tribtoday.com