By Maggie Pruitt
Painting a school, volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, and stuffing 1,500 Easter eggs with candy for kids are just a few of the service activities the sixth and seventh graders in the new Humanitarian Club at Harmony Science Academy have helped with lately.
At the beginning of the school year, first-year teacher at HSA Victoria Sobol, along with teacher Vildan Erturk, co-founded and established the Humanitarian Club for middle school students at Harmony Science Academy.
There are about 10 to 15 students involved who volunteer on a regular basis, usually on Friday afternoons or Saturdays. They give their free time to help, and they enjoy the off-campus responsibility, according to HSA Registrar and Outreach Coordinator April Crow.
HSA is a public charter school located in Bryan where they concentrate on math, science, engineering, and computer technology. HSA welcomes students K-8th grade who are looking for a quality STEM and project-based learning education environment. They also provide a place for students who may not feel at home in the school they are zoned for. The club has helped the students focus on social problems and understand service.
“Middle school students typically only think of themselves and [the Humanitarian Club] gets them thinking outside of themselves,” says Sobol. “One student was really wanting to help these homeless people and actually seeing people struggle made the problem of homelessness very real to him.”
Most of the students have begun to volunteer on a weekly to biweekly basis and have set an example of community service for students in lower grades, Crow explains. “One of the students’ brothers in third grade is asking to help with the Humanitarian Club now,” she says.
Sobol gets ideas for ways to help around the community from the student members and lets them take more control of their service projects in older grades so they have more responsibility in service.
The Humanitarian Club has been helpful to both the students and community, according to Crow, and will continue to do so as students take part in serving.