They don't wear capes or fight crime, but superheroes walk the hallways of Columbus City Schools.
"We celebrate the superheroes among us," Superintendent J. Daniel Good said in lauding the participants in the 14th annual Service Above Self Project High School Fair. "True superheroes use their talents to help others.
"In short, superheroes are the embodiment of service above self."
The event, sponsored by Columbus Rotary in partnership with the school district, was held May 8 at the Valley Dale Ballroom. It showcased the efforts of more than 1,000 students in all Columbus high schools who put in more than 10,000 hours on projects helping others, said Bob Kaynes, co-chairman of the fair.
The projects included an international fair celebrating the different cultures at Beechcroft High School; Centennial High School National Honor Society members supporting a Special Olympics winter aquatics meet; raising awareness about sexual violence at Columbus Alternative High School; and the Gay Straight Alliance at Whetstone High School.
At Northland High School, upperclassmen helped incoming freshmen make the transition from middle school. Students at Independence High School campaigned for safe sidewalks around the building on Refugee Road. Students at Linden-McKinley STEM Academy put in volunteer hours at St. Stephen's Community House, Ronald McDonald House and LifeCare Alliance.
Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther spoke of the "tremendous service projects" on display.
"Looking out at these young people, I see the future of this city is very bright," Ginther said.
During the awards luncheon, 12 students were awarded Rotary scholarships totaling $50,000. They are Isatu Barry of Briggs High School, Na'imah Campbell of Columbus Downtown High School, Ahnesti Gaston of Columbus Africentric Early College, Taneeyah Hale of Northland High School, Oluwaeun Isaiah of Independence High School, Kiersten Johnson of Mifflin High School, Terrell Johnson of Eastmoor Academy, Colin-Martinez-Watkins of Whetstone High School, Emily Russell of Marion-Franklin High School, Alexis Thompson of Centennial High School, Olivia Wilder of Walnut Ridge High School and Kevin Wolford II of West High School.
In addition, Terrell Johnson was presented with the $25,000 Mary Beth and Luke McCormick Scholarship.
The projects students undertake as part of the Rotary not only encourage them to do good works in their schools and in the community, but also help them learn teamwork, presentation and other skills, said Rick Studer, now in his third year as coordinator of the Service Above Self program.
"CCS students serve people in need within their schools and communities, and some even touch the lives of people in other countries," Studer said in an announcement of the awards luncheon. "That's terrific by itself. In addition, the students enhance valuable personal skills, serve as role models and, frankly, feel the joy that comes from doing good works.
"We see this as a positive and powerful combination that supports the ongoing academic efforts of students and faculty."