Grandview Heights Schools: ELC students coordinate series of community service projects

Alan Froman
ThisWeek group

Grandview Heights Schools students have been in "all-in" learning mode since the district returned to a traditional 100% face-to-face instruction in March.

Students participating in the Extended Learning Classes (ELC) at Edison Intermediate/Larson Middle School have gone all out in planning, leading and participating in community-service projects in an initiative that was inspired, in part, by the impact the pandemic year has had on everyone.

From left, Asher Toman, Elias Osborne and Rex Shirazi – all fourth-graders in the Extended Learning Classes (ELC) at Edison Intermediate/Larson Middle School – decorate Kindness Kits for Kids for the Ronald McDonald House.

"Part of it was in response to the COVID situation," EILMS gifted-intervention specialist Joan Grundey said. "With everything we've all been going through, it's helped make us appreciate more the needs that exist in our community."

Students in grades 3-7 who have been identified as cognitively gifted participate in the ELC. The class focuses on such skills as critical and creative thinking and problem solving, Grundey said. 

The sixth- and seventh-grade students took the lead in planning and coordinating a variety of service-learning projects from January through April, she said.

"We wanted to have the older students be in charge to help them develop leadership and communication skills," she said.

The students researched and connected with central Ohio organizations and brainstormed to come up with several projects they have promoted throughout the school and have encouraged their schoolmates to support.

Seventh-graders Cadie Toman and Emina Osborne helped lead a project to benefit Stitched Together, a central Ohio organization that serves foster children and foster families.

Students were asked to donate items that were placed in book bags – or Hope Cases, as they're called by Stitched Together – that will be distributed to foster children, Cadie said.

"We held a donation drive in the school and asked everyone to donate personal-hygiene items, books and things that are suitable for different ages, like baby wipes, diapers and baby clothes," Emina said. 

The Hope Cases provide children with items they can call their own as they move from one foster home to another, Grundey said. 

"It gave me a really nice feeling to donate items that will help people I don't even know," Cadie said. "It was a fun experience putting the project together."

Seventh-grader Beckett Joubert was a participant in a project to create fleece blankets that were sent to a homeless shelter.

"You take two pieces of fleece, and there's a way to tie them together in knots to create a nice-sized blanket," he said. "They're really easy to make, but they'll keep you warm when it's cold."

Beckett made two blankets.

The seventh-grade ELC students also coordinated a project to collect gently used books to donate to Nationwide Children's Hospital, he said.

ELC 6 students oversaw a project that helped Heart to Heart, the food pantry at First Community Church in Marble Cliff.

Kate McIntosh and Benny McCain helped lead the project to collect personal-hygiene items that Heart to Heart clients could select along with their food items.

Although everyone understands a pantry provides nourishment to people, they might not realize clients also need everyday personal-care items, Benny said.

"We put up posters around the school to advertise our project and try to let people know about the need," Kate said.

EILMS students donated more than 1,000 items that were sent to the pantry, she said. The response shows that her schoolmates "really care for the community," Kate said.

The project had an impact on him, Benny said. He plans to get more involved in community-service projects, he said.

"You can make a difference," Benny said.

Another sixth-grade project benefited the Ronald McDonald House.

"It's a place where families with sick children who are patients at the hospital can stay while their children get treatment," sixth-grader Stephanie Chute said. 

The project was aimed to assist the siblings of  hospital patients, she said.

"We wanted to offer some fun for them while they are staying at Ronald McDonald House," Stephanie said.

"We made these bags called 'Kindness Kits for Kids,'" sixth-grader Owen Bentley said. "They were filled with a lot of fun things like toys, games or art supplies."

The kits were designed to give the siblings of hospital patients something to help take their minds off their family's troubles and being away from home, he said.

Twenty-one kits were assembled and forwarded to Ronald McDonald House, Stephanie said.

"It's a great feeling knowing you're helping make someone's day a little brighter," she said.

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