By Pixie Sulser
The focus of an educational institution is to provide its students with information and skills needed to succeed in the future.
Additionally, schools offer platforms for students to engage in sports, musical interests, leadership activities, and community service opportunities. There doesn’t seem to be a lack of the latter on the Ramona High School campus. Several RHS groups and individuals are reaching out to others offering assistance in a variety of ways.
The Interact Club, a group of approximately 25 students in grades 9 through 12 who volunteer their time and energy to service projects in the community, recently completed their third annual Teens for Jeans drive sponsored in conjunction with Aeropostale Clothing Company. The project collects gently worn jeans and capris that are distributed to local homeless shelters.
“We gathered 120 pairs of jeans,” said club adviser Jolie Iraheta.
The Aeropostale program calls itself Teens for Jeans and started with the idea to collect denim from teens for teens, “but we collected jeans in all sizes,” continued Iraheta. “Homelessness doesn’t know age.”
Although a group effort, Iraheta complimented the work of Interact members Kenny Lawler, Laura Calcara, Melissa Mitton, and Marissa Maris, who were “instrumental in delivering and picking up donation boxes, counting the jeans, and being on hand when Aeropostale picked up the collection,” Iraheta shared.
Interact is Rotary International’s service club for young people ages 12 to 18. Ramona Rotary Club sponsors the Interact group at RHS.
Community service is a large part of many college and scholarship applications, so the RHS National Honor Society seeks to keep its members apprised of community service opportunities as well as plan events of its own. After learning of KFMB’s Warrior Foundation through the Holiday Tree project organized by Mountain Valley Associated Student Body, the RHS National Honor Society investigated other ways to help.
From the foundation’s website, it was noted that tube socks were needed, instigating the first Operation Tube Sock endeavor. Wanting to reach students on as personal of a level as possible, the National Honor Society teamed with several of the school’s social science teachers who were willing to encourage their classes to donate packages of new, white tube socks. Over a two-week period, 50 packages of tube socks were collected.
The Warrior Foundation’s mission is to help injured and disabled military personnel by “offering a direct avenue for patriotic citizens to help those who are fighting.” Further information on the Warrior Foundation and its needs may be found at www.warriorfoundation.com.
In February, RHS senior Janine Fastenau, independent of any group or club, organized a benefit concert held at the RHS Performing Arts Wing to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as well as for two community members, RHS dance teacher Lynn Chastang and Joann Fastenau (aunt to event organizer), who are involved in personal fights against cancer.
Fastenau pulled the benefit together as a way of simply doing something to help others.
“I knew I wanted to do something,” she said, “so I did a little investigation and cancer research jumped out at me.”
As a performer herself, Fastenau leaned toward bringing other artists together as a way to raise money and awareness.
Throughout the night personal stories of patients at St. Jude’s Hospital were incorporated into the various performances by the RHS Jazz Band, pianist Gina Seashore, Valerie McElroy and the Hanson Elementary choir students, Janine Fastenau, Maddy McNiff, Heather Lovell, Jessie Sammons, and other local performers.
“We raised approximately $1,200 for St. Jude’s through ticket sales and donations and over $800 from the raffle, silent auction and personal donations for Mrs. Chastang’s husband and my Aunt Joann,” said Fastenau. “Local businesses donated items for the raffle and the silent auction baskets in addition to the refreshments for the evening.”
Community members interested in information regarding upcoming service events organized by the various Ramona High School groups may visit the school website, ramonausd.net/rhs/site, at any time.