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Staples students get schooled in diverse community projects

Published 3:55 pm, Thursday, June 23, 2011
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Community service is a hallmark of the many, diverse after-school and extracurricular activities at Staples High School.

Nearly every Staples club this year organized at least one outreach activity in Westport, Fairfield County or farther afield, according to school officials.

The World Wildlife Club, for example, donated money and supplies both locally (Westport Humane Society) and globally (Wildlife in Crisis, the Elephant Sanctuary, the National Wildlife Federation).

All-Around Helpers raised money for gifts, supplies, children's toys and diapers for Westport's Department of Human Services.

The Global Friendship Club donated more than $2,000 to Save the Children, the Westport-based relief agency. African Refugees gave more than $1,000 in clothing to an orphanage overseas, while Students Supporting AIDS Awareness raised over $1,000 toward research through participation in the annual AIDS Walk New York.

Long-established Staples organizations pitched in too. Last month during their "Ages and Stages" production, Staples Players solicited money for Americans devastated by recent tornadoes.

Staples' chapter of Junior State of America, a program for students interested in business, worked on two major projects this year -- donating thousands of dollars to the Nothing But Nets anti-malaria campaign in Africa, and also wrote letters to soldiers in Afghanistan.

The Digital Photography Club created a photography exhibit, "Dog Show," featuring portraits of dogs taken at the Bridgeport Animal Shelter. The show was designed to raise awareness about animal cruelty, promote pet adoptions and prompt donations of food and treats.

Club Green, a group that promotes environmental awareness, helped introduce double-sided printers in the Staples library, as well as organizing the recent EcoFest at the Levitt Pavilion, combining environmental education with entertainment.

Members of the Origami Club created a thousand paper cranes, then built a "crane tower" for a children's hospital. The tower followed an ancient Japanese tradition in which cranes represent wishes that will come true.

The Gay-Straight Alliance worked to raise awareness of bullying. An Ally Day last fall encouraged students to pledge to refrain from making derogatory comments.

The Teen Awareness Group encouraged student pledges for a cause -- in this case, asking teenagers not to text while driving.

The Jewelry Club fashioned 100 necklaces for care packages given to victims of domestic violence.

Heart and Soul organized two collections: one of toys during the holiday season, the other of prom dresses for donation to needy students through a Norwalk YMCA program.

The Service League of Boys (SLOBs) worked on 17 construction, landscaping and painting projects for social service agencies. Sites included the Gillespie Center, Linxweiler House, Bacharach Community, Saugatuck Apartments, Project Return and ABC House.

Best Buddies raked leaves for the CLASP Home in Westport, and baked apple and pumpkin pies for ABC House and Project Return. Best Buddies also hosted a prom for area students with disabilities.

Staples Assistant Vice Principal Richard Franzis said other community-service projects were undertaken by athletic teams, the music program, academic classes or individual students.

Staples' 89 extracurricular clubs are for students as well as the community, Franzis said. "We feel it is extremely important that students be connected to the school outside of the classroom in some positive fashion, such as sports, the arts, or a club or activity. It is our hope that through them, students feel a sense of belonging," he said in a statement.

"Most club advisors do not receive a monetary stipend. They volunteer to be advisors because they firmly believe in the concept of student involvement beyond the classroom," he added. "Faculty and staff advisors really enjoy seeing students in a different light outside the classroom."