10th graders launch research-based, service-learning projects

items for homeless peope
These are some of the items that student Jacob Smith collected as part of his homeless shelter items drive. These items will be donated to Catholic Charities.

Drawing inspiration from the acclaimed book Into the Wild, 10th grade students launched several research-based service-learning projects in Mrs. Paulson’s English classes this spring.

Into the Wild, written by Jon Krakauer, details the story of Chris McCandless who pursues his life on his own terms and donates time and money to charities along the way. McCandless eventually disappears into the Alaskan wilderness, never to be seen alive again.

Mrs. Paulson’s students, working in groups, researched contemporary issues and initiated service-learning projects to make positive changes in the world. Projects included fundraisers for mental health awareness; homelessness; the effects of pollution on sea turtles; the effects of COVID on businesses; and the African Water Crisis (inspired by Mrs. Wolford’s A Long Walk to Water); and many more. As part of their projects, students created websites, video and even visited elementary students to share their initiative with them.

“I truly believe that students took a great deal of real-life knowledge away from this project. They were able to go through the research process with trusted teammates, they were able to work collaboratively with those teammates to create infomercials with the goal of bringing awareness to their research topics, and they were also able to do something worthwhile to be a part of the positive change in the world,” Mrs. Paulson said. “I think this project has shown our students that even when they don’t feel like they can make a difference in the world, they really can! Honestly? My heart is full after working with this amazing group of young people. I look forward to seeing all the amazing things they will do throughout their lives!”

The complete list of projects/fundraisers is below:

Mackenzie Acre, Ethan Studer, Mitchell Thompson, and Helena Banks made a fundraiser for Mental Health America. They are working on making a website for Mental Health Awareness.

“We made this because we know that the media really affects people’s mental health. Some people are too scared to reach out or they don’t know how to. We’re currently researching how the media affects mental health. We know that social media plays a huge part in society today. It can affect someone in a good or bad way. Media has damaged many people, even people we know.

We ask if you could share this information or donate to help those in need. This is important to us, so please share this, even if you cannot donate today. Thank you so much.” – Mackenzie Acre, Ethan Studer, Mitchell Thompson, and Helena Banks.

students sit in a classroom
10th Grade students visited with Elementary Students to teach them about the pollution dangers faced by sea turtles.

Here is the link to their fundraiser: https://www.gofundme.com/f/xjhdcb-mental-health-america-fundraiser?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_cf+share-flow-1


This fundraiser is being hosted by Owen Hill, Trent Marinelli, Trason Murray, and Kaden Butts, who have researched the ongoing water poisoning situation in Flint, Michigan:

https://gofund.me/ef556caa


This fundraiser is here to help and support the LGBTQ community. We have suffered through discrimination for centuries and to no one’s surprise we are still facing adversaries. We’re being restricted from having jobs, schooling, being parents, and overall being ourselves. Even though a few states have laws to protect our rights, we are still being limited because people are against our way of life. Love is love, no matter what gender. Please stand by us and donate so we can help the community through the struggles of everyday life just because we won’t stay quiet about who we are and who we love.

https://aliforneycenter.donordrive.com/campaign/Help-The-LGBTQ-COmmunity-

Sierra Snell & Felix Courtney


This fundraiser is being hosted by Hayley Foster and Alexis Chumbler, who are researching the African Water Crisis (after being inspired in Mrs. Wolford’s 8th grade class when they read A Long Walk to Water):

https://thewaterproject.org/community/profile/hayleys-campaign-for-water


Another group is collecting gently used clothing items to be donated to JT’s closet here at the school after researching the issue of poverty in our community. These students ended up collecting about 20 bags of clothing!

Group members: Clarissa Bonilla, Dakota Johnson, Camryn Edgett, Sam Fernette

(Donation boxes are in Mrs. Paulson’s room as well as Mr. Nial’s room.)


One student, Jacob Smith, is researching the topic of homelessness in the United States. He is collecting monetary donations to buy items to donate to a local homeless shelter (Catholic Charities). More information can be found by emailing Jacob at smithjac@students.uvstorm.org or myself.

Update: Jacob Smith ended up raising $50 in donations to buy items for a local homeless shelter, Catholic Charities.


This group of students planted ten trees after researching the issue of air pollution in the world. The trees were donated by Connor’s grandmother.

Students: Connor Warren, Alex White, Esper Phillips, Hayden Crippen


Two groups joined together to raise money for a pizza party for the sophomore class after researching the effects of both COVID and social media on the mental health of teens. (They determined through interviews and research that an outdoor pizza party would help their peers feel more mentally healthy.)

Students: Pyper Kneale, Blake Wright, Chris Rundle, Kadence York, Shannon Kelly, Maddi Sayles, Hudson Lyons, Kate Conway


One student researched the current statistics of mental health in teens and hosted a fundraiser for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness” (//nami.org/Home).

(Student: Kim McCarthy)


Several groups researched the topics of pollution and recycling. Some of these groups picked up trash around the school and in the community. Students: Dakota Pascocello, Braxten Whaley, Joey Avolio, Allison Allen, Bella Jones, Ashton DeSha. 


Two groups even joined together to teach Mrs. Osborne’s third grade class about recycling and ocean pollution’s effect on sea turtles, and they did an arts and crafts project with the kids using recycled materials! (I’ll attach a few pictures of this!) Students: Jeanette Weaver, Makaylie Canfield, Hunter Canfield, Elena Tompkins, Kailee Figger, Nic Haggerty, Emily Nichols


One student, Deanna Peter, researched the topic of Black Lives Matter, with a specific focus on systemic racism and how it affects Black people today. She interviewed her dad, who was able to tell the class about his experiences with being Black in America, living with discrimination, and how we can change these situations and systems for the better. She then worked with Mrs. McClammy, Mrs. Dobbin, and Mrs. Paulson to create a Diversity Club at UVCS, which she will be working in long after this project has ended! (Stay tuned and JOIN THE CLUB!)


One student, Bruce Townsend, interviewed local business owners to study the effect of COVID on businesses. He was thrilled to be able to interview someone outside of the school in order to find some very valuable information for his project.


One student, Erica Mumbulo, researched the issue of animal cruelty in America and what we can do about it. She volunteered at a local ASPCA, spending time with the animals, interviewing the staff there, and even donating many items (toys, cleaning supplies, food, and treats) to the shelter and its animals!