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DHS leadership class is dedicated to school

by Nancy Hamlett

If one of the basic requirements of becoming an unsung hero is having a heart dedicated to helping others, the entire leadership class at Douglas High School should be honored.

According to Bev Jeans, DHS principal, each and every student enrolled in the elective class is a hero.

“These young adults are dedicated to making their school a better place and to have a positive impact on the community,” said Jeans. “The only help they need from us is guidance in how to accomplish their many goals.”

The leadership class at Douglas High School is designed to be the proving grounds for the next generation of unsung heroes, where the students learn how to plan and organize school functions and community projects. A visit to the classroom would open the eyes of many adults in our community. The room is packed for Mr. Goslin’s popular class, and when these students vocalize the many reasons they are taking the class, their generous hearts are easily recognized.

Improving communications and attitudes between teenagers and the community, instilling school spirit, improving the image of teenagers, learning people skills and life skills, helping people who are less fortunate – the students feel that these issues are important and that the leadership class is an instrument for obtaining results.

Several projects were discussed during the class with the chairpersons of each project giving progress reports. Everyone was encouraged to offer opinions and suggestions resulting in many good ideas.

Sara Bunting and Michelee Alvarez chaired the Veteran’s Day committee. They contacted veterans’ organizations and spoke to veterans to discover the best ways to recognize and honor the men and women who served in the armed forces. Activities included serving at the annual veterans’ dinner, and saluting the veterans with a message of the marquee in front of the school.

“They protected our country,” said Bunting. “And somehow I don’t think we do enough to recognize that.”

“They did so much for us,” added Alvarez. “We’re here because of them, yet we don’t see a whole lot done for them.”

Twice per year students at DHS host a blood drive, and Tiffany Permann is organizing the events this year.

“I’m too small to donate blood – they have a weight limit – so I decided to organize the event instead. This way I am still doing something to help,” said Permann.

Student body secretary Kaitlyn Doyle said that last year DHS won the contest between all Northern Nevada high schools for the most blood donated. Bunting and Alvarez added that the success was due to a lot of hard work. The organizers called the night before to remind the students, and then they pulled the students out of the classroom so that they didn’t miss their scheduled timeslot.

“The goal is 100 pints per day, and the drive is usually held over two days. However, this year the bloodmobile can be at the school one day only,” said Permann.

“That’s going to hurt us. I don’t know how we are going to schedule that many people in one day, but we are going to try. It’s important that we donate blood to help our community, and we will do everything we can to make this work.”

During Halloween, the students trick-or-treated for the Make a Wish Foundation by asking for donations instead of candy. Doyle said that Make a Wish Foundation is the state charity of the Associated Student councils. The leadership class was instrumental in organizing the fund-raiser.

“The leadership class is good because people from all cliques and different outlooks come together to make decisions,” said Doyle. “We work together for a common good, and that is our primary concern.”

Ashley Conroy and Jennifer Matis are the chairpersons for the food drive that is currently taking place at the school. Last year the students donated almost 6,000 non-perishable food items. Conroy and Matis have established a lofty goal of 10,000 items for this year’s drive.

“The community needs it,” said Conroy, while Matis telephoned businesses in the Carson Valley looking for support for the drive. “And we are trying something new this year. We just came up with the idea of a drive-by food drive where the community can participate. We are working out the details now.”

It didn’t take long for Matis and Conroy to solicit the use of the parking lots at the AM/PM and Kentucky Fried Chicken at the south end of Gardnerville for their drive. Or to set the date. The drive is today, Nov. 20, from 9 a.m. to noon.

“We are challenging the community to match the high school’s goal – last year’s goal,” said Conroy. “We couldn’t expect them to do as much as we are going to do this year.”

The class also organizes school events to promote school unity.

“In order for the community to take us seriously, we have to be a strong school. We all have to work together. School spirit improves our appearance in the community,” said Doyle.

The leadership class promotes open discussions, and the students agree that they are learning to think for themselves and not to go along with everyone else. They are learning to speak in public and are developing the courtesy required when asking for assistance or a donation.

“And we are learning how to fail as well,” said Alvarez. “Everything we plan doesn’t always work. We’re learning how to accept that and then learn from our mistakes.”

“But most important, we are almost adults, and we are learning how to make adult decisions that can benefit everyone,” said Conroy.

The students in the leadership class are bright and enthusiastic, with a good set of values geared toward improving their school community and their community at large.

“We are doing work that will benefit us and our community for the rest of our lives,” said James Jackson, student body president and a member of the class.

“This is how you should act in the community for the rest of your life.”