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Teton High School students donate $7K to community

DRIGGS, Idaho (KIFI)- Students enrolled in the Teton High School AP Government Course completed a special project as part of their course. The project is based on philanthropy and doing good in their community. The project is funded by the Teton Community Project. The students are given $7,000 to disperse into various non-profit organizations into their community.

Brent Schindler, the teacher of the course, says while he has been only apart of the project for the past 4 years, it has been going on for the past decade. During that time, he says students over the years have had to make really tough decisions that some adults may struggle with.

"We're always having to try to find the best use for that money. It's fantastic seeing these students make those same difficult choices and may see them really coming out of their shells, seeing their values as they make those decisions."

Schindler adds the students really had their eyes opened to the needs of their community.

"Some of the students have said they weren't aware that some of these organizations existed. Some of them have talked about volunteering. Some of them have offered money, actually, donations to those organizations. And so you really see sparks going on within the kids as they see that they're a part of the success of these programs."

He says the program has provided lots of growth for each of the students as well.

"I love seeing the growth and I love seeing their values come out. I love seeing them become adults. I love seeing them make adult type decisions. And it's just very heartwarming to see these kids who actually I taught from from the time they were small in music to now that they're in high school graduating and they become superb, wonderful adults."

Luisa Araujo is a student in the course she describes some of the challenges that her and her fellow class mates had to experience as part of their experience.

"So we received a packet with all of your proposals and we actually read through every single one and we looked at the budget, we decided of the budgets for plausible and those kinds of things. And then we actually had a class discussion on every single nonprofit about whether it should be placed in the category of yes, maybe or no," she said. "And after the discussion and everybody kind of said their piece, we had the ability to vote and then we voted to place them into a column. And after we had curated the Yes column, we then worked from there to rank things within the Yes column and then allocate funds from there."

Luke Peters, a fellow classmate, adds that was difficult to sort through it and find where the finds should go.

"It was certainly at first very daunting because we had to choose between like, like good and better. Like of all the, all the nonprofits we felt were quite generally beneficial to our community as a whole. So sorting through those, it was very difficult, but it was nice to actually be able to engage in like a discussion with my fellow class members."

After the struggles they say the process and seeing all the money divided out to the different organizations was very rewarding.

"I think it's really special, especially as a young person, to get to effect change, because I think when you grow up, you kind of think those things are left for adults and those things are left for older members of the community. So to get to be so influential, starting at a really young age, most of us are 18. This is the senior class. And as we go about in the world, we'll continue to remember, I think, this experience for a long time because we are capable of affecting teenagers. And I think that's what this really has highlighted for us," Luisa said.

"Just seeing our typical theory put into practice. That was it was a nice thing to be able to do and like show that what we're learning is helpful to real world people and do it in such a kind way," Luke said.

Another classmate Addison Hensen says she was inspired to find more ways to help out in her community.

"I like donating time, sharing things. But as as a high school student, that's sometimes hard. But now that I know that there's more, I mean, usually when I do stuff, it's in the summer because that's when I have the most time. So I don't know. So now I'm going to have to look into more of the things and try and see because there was a couple like Downtown Driggs Association, they have the volunteers who pick up trash and I'm going, I might do that more."

All of the $7,000 was divided up to many different organizations in the Teton Valley, some of them include:

  • Teton Valley Community Recycling
  • Teton Valley Food Pantry
  • PTO Garden a program at the elementary schools 
  • Teton education foundation
  • Teton Animal Shelter
  • Subs  For santa
  • Teton Valley Aquatics

Sue Heffron is the executive Director of the Teton Valley Food Pantry. She says the experience these students have gained is invaluable.

"Their level of understanding and participating in the community. I mean, I didn't have that as as a kid. And I didn't have necessarily the real life adult experiences to be given a handful of money and an even more need and then to be able to to decide what should be funded. That's a that's a real life adult experience. And that is so valuable, that is so wonderful that this high school does that. And the community foundation supports it."

The project is done every fall at Teton High School for the participating members.

Article Topic Follows: Idaho
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Braydon Wilson

Braydon is a reporter for Local News 8 and Eyewitness News 3.


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