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As Galax High School’s senior class prepares to graduate on May 31, some members of the Class of 2013 are leaving their mark on their alma mater.
Ali Reyna’s idea was to leave a literal mark, in the form of a mural of fellow seniors’ handprints.
“I wanted to leave a legacy for our senior class: an artwork to continue over the years,” he said.
After brainstorming several ideas, he came up with the concept of using a wall inside the school for seniors to leave their handprints before they graduate.
A wall in the hallway that divides the high school and middle school was chosen for the project. This year’s graduating class left multicolored handprints all around a typographic design by Reyna.
“I’m really into art, and I saw it as an opportunity to leave a mark and a piece of art somewhere,” he said. “People will see this everyday... I’m just honored that I was chosen to do this project.”
Reyna and other GHS seniors have been busy making a difference in their community through their senior projects this year, as evidenced by seven presentations to the Galax School Board over the past two months.
Assisted by Powerpoint slides, they explained their process in making their projects successful.
Hope for Christmas
Timothy Hale chose the Galax Hope House for his project, because he “wanted to make a major, positive difference in the lives of people.” The Hope House, which is a housing recovery program for adult males, is a ministry that relies on the donations of others to keep their doors open.
After contacting director Tammy Harmon, Hale was given a tour of the facility. He learned that the facility needs monetary donations more than anything else.
Since it was almost Christmas, Hale started a “Hope for Christmas” campaign.
“I wrote letters to local churches, asking them to sponsor the Hope House,” he said. He created a portion at the bottom of each letter that could be cut off and sent in with a donation.
Donations were accepted until the end of December. Hale raised $1,200 for his cause, enough to cover the Hope House’s electric bill for three months during winter seasons.
“I learned that true value comes not in money, but in helping others in our community,” he said.
Sarah Patton took inspiration from her mother for her senior project: a hands-only CPR demonstration.
Hands-only CPR involves no mouth-to-mouth, focusing instead on the importance of chest compressions, Patton said. “I learned about this through my mom, as it’s a part of her job.”
“I was originally going to do this at a Grayson football game, but it was too cluttered for me to set up the tables,” Patton said.
Instead, she set up her station in the lobby at a Grayson football game.
Patton’s station had an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), two dummies for practicing and a video tutorial. Assistants were also available at the station to help participants along.
“My goal was to have 100 participants... I had over 130,” Patton said.
Carolyn Vaughan took a proactive approach to raise money for her project.
Her cause of choice was Project ASK, which raises money to help children with cancer. She raised money by planning a raffle with seven items from local businesses.
“I went to several local businesses and asked them to support by donating items as prizes,” she said. She received prize items from The Galax Smokehouse, Chapters Bookshop, Applebee’s, Harmon’s, Roy’s Diamond Center and Lemons Jewelry.
She made several flyers and posted them around school, and sold tickets for the raffle.
At the event, several helpers went on stage, drew tickets and gave out the prizes.
Vaughan’s goal was to raise $125 for Project ASK, which would qualify them at the highest of their levels of donation. She surpassed that number with $137, plus an extra $13 in contribution from FBLA.
“Through this project, I learned that it takes organizational skills, planning and communication with others to be able to accomplish and in the end, be successful in reaching your goal.”
Student Art Show
William Senter approached his project with the idea to add a splash of color to the city. His first idea was to create a mural, but he quickly ran into several issues.
Eventually, his idea for public art was morphed when he was approached by Chris Shackelford, executive director of Chestnut Creek School of the Arts to join the student art committee.
“All three art teachers at our school had student projects that they wanted to submit to [CCSA] for a contest,” Senter said. From start to finish, he worked with the teachers, attended the meetings and helped to write a plan of action for the project.
He shifted the Powerpoint to the next slide, showing a layout of the winners in the May 13-14 edition of The Gazette.
“This is the end result, with the students acknowledged,” he said, and added that he was happy that “students from this school could be involved and just bring more culture to our community.”
GES Gym Project
Sydney Barker came up with her idea for a "Make a Wish" project after hearing a story from one of her father’s conferences.
“He told me that this town put together enough money to get a rock wall,” she said. “I decided to do a ‘Make a Wish’ for our elementary school.”
She set to work putting together a prompt for second graders that asked them, “If you could make your school better, what would you do?”
“I got lots of responses, ranging from a better student council to more books about snakes. But the one I got the most was for more gym equipment,” she said.
After consulting with Brenda Marrah, the grants administrator for the city, she tried for a grant from Disney Friends for Change. But when they were unable to fund the request, Barker had to come up with a Plan B.
So, in order to raise money for as much equipment as possible, she planned a field day on May 29, complete with a dunking booth.
“Keep your calendars open!” she told the school board.
When asked what she had learned from the project, she responded, “I realized that a set plan isn’t always going to work out the way you want.” But after regrouping, she was still able to help the school in the end.
Maroon Tide Pride
Kaitlyn Martin brought another artistic idea to the city council after deciding that the GHS Maroon Tide logo needed more promotion around the city.
“At other schools, I had seen logos on the road [around the school], and I thought it was a neat and functional idea,” she said.
She contacted Ray Kohl, director of the Galax Visitor Center and school board chairman. “I was hoping that the school would back it,” she said.
And they did.
“From there, I talked to [City Manager] Keith Barker, who helped me attend the meeting and get my project on the agenda. [Council] thought it was a wonderful idea, and that it was possible.”
She contacted a design company in Mount Airy, N.C. for a stencil design, and collected donations from Galax Fire Department, Virginia Tire, CarQuest and others.
After the details were planned out, the city painted the design on the road.
“I waited longer than anticipated to do the project. I didn’t realize what I’d have to go through to get it approved and everything done,” she said of what she learned from her project.
The stencils, she says, now belong to the city, and she hopes that the logo painting will be kept up as the years wear away the original design.
On thing that won’t wear away is the lessons learned by the seniors who undertook these projects to help their communities.