From packing birthdays in a bag for students in need to adopting local seniors and beautifying their school, students at Big Shanty Intermediate School are making their mark on the community. Big Shanty students and staff are dedicated to making a positive impact in their community, so dedicated that the school's theme is "Make Your Mark."
Word of their positive impact has spread beyond the borders of Cobb County. Star 94 and Delta Community Credit Union recently surprised Big Shanty students and staff with $10,000 in recognition of the school's community service campaigns. Big Shanty was named the grand prize winner of Delta Community Credit Union's 2022 Give Back Give Away.
The celebration featured the North Cobb High School band and cheerleaders and served as a pep rally for the Big Shanty students and staff. Cobb Schools leadership and representatives from Star 94 and Delta Community Credit Union praised Big Shanty for their commitment to helping others.
"This is what it is about. You guys are amazing! I want you to keep making your mark," applauded Sherri Hill, Chief School Leadership Officer.
Some of the service projects were inspired by books the students read at school. As part of Big Shanty's schoolwide book club, every student and staff member read "Ellray Jakes is a Rock Star," which sparked conversations about acts of service and, ultimately, the birthday-party-in-a-bag kits for children in need. Thanks to the work of the students, staff members, and donations from Big Shanty families, the school created 70 birthday kits to donate to the Center for Children and Young Adults.
"It is important that the students understand that these little things make a huge impact on people," said Dr. Kelly Luscre, Big Shanty principal. "We talk about it all the time, how we can do things to help others feel better, which in turn makes us feel better."
Big Shanty third-grader Austin explained that it makes him feel awesome to help others, "he always wants to be helpful."
Big Shanty's student-led environmental club also hosted a campus beautification day to spruce up our grounds since they are a gathering spot for community members who use the track for exercise, the playgrounds for family fun, and the Little Free Library to find new books to read.
Recognizing that residents of a local senior center do not always have family members who can visit, the students stepped up to fill the gap by sending cards, snacks, and small gifts to these men and women.
Big Shanty teacher Glenda Hutchinson has seen pictures and heard stories about how the letters and gifts they send to the senior home brighten up the residents' days.
She was blown away by the generosity of the school community. It serves as an example of why the teachers feel proud to be part of the Big Shanty community.
Ms. Hutchinson's colleague Emily Hutto was also grateful for the opportunity to bring smiles to the faces of Cobb senior citizens.
"It has been a touching experience to see how excited the residents get. It is a great experience to be a part of," Ms. Hutto added.
She thinks Big Shanty students have learned the importance of being kind to others and how giving back helps them feel a part of the community. The Big Shanty teacher would like to expand the outreach to other senior homes and take the students to visit the residents in person.
Giving back makes 4th grader Genesis feel "really happy," and she would like to continue making an impact by recycling and giving to others who do not have as much as her.
Thanks to the money from the grand prize award, Big Shanty students will be able to continue making their mark on the community. In December, they are working on a service project to support an organization that protects endangered animals. The school also has plans to make its mark on a global scale by tackling an international service project.