BETHEL — Exciting positive things continue to happen at Telstar High School. On October 10, the entire high school participated in the first student driven and led Telstar Community Outreach Day. Students and staff spend the day helping others in the community and learning about future volunteer opportunities. The day was a big hit with the students, staff, community members, and organizations. In a country where chronic absenteeism has become a major topic of discussion, this school-wide event drew a near perfect attendance rate, 98.8%. Positive feedback was received by all involved. Telstar High School requires students to earn 40 community service hours as a graduation requirement. Although many students are able to complete these hours on their own, others often struggle to meet this requirement. Reported barriers have been transportation issues, time conflicts, and not really knowing who or where they should volunteer. Telstar Community Outreach Day eliminated the barriers for those who were struggling and created further opportunities for those who had already met their required service hours.

Prior to the day beginning students were given choices of where they wanted to go and what organization they wanted to help. Of course, the seniors had more choices then the freshmen, but all grade levels had some choice in what they did. Staff were assigned to all the projects to provide adult supervision at the various sites. All who participated received a free t-shirt designed by the high school Art teacher, Tera Ingraham.

On the day of the event students and staff spend the morning working at various places helping many groups and individuals. Their services were appreciated by all. Students and staff then returned to Telstar for lunch. After lunch all students went to their satellite groups where they participated in a reflective circle using guided questions to discuss the morning activities. After satellite everyone went to the auditorium for a schoolwide assembly where they were able to share their thoughts on how the morning went, or give ways to improve it for next time. The rest of the afternoon was spent listening to a number of individuals from many different community groups who were invited to Telstar to speak about their organization, what they did, and what they might need for future volunteers.

At the end of the day all the students who participated received 6 hours of community service. Students who already had their graduation requirement fulfilled had their extra hours counted as points and applied to their total points earned for Project Opportunity. Project Opportunity is a scholarship program set up for Telstar students. Students earn points for any and all extra curricular activities they participate in. These points convert into actual money and are awarded to the students upon meeting graduation requirements and submitting an application. The more students are involved in the the more money they earn through Project Opportunity.

Orion Fournier, Adler Souther, Davin Mason, Cain Shatzer, Max Kruse, and Teddy Doyle sorting clothes for the Philbrook Place and sporting some vintage coats. Submitted photo

Jack Mallory, Austin Coward, Matt Rice, Jacob Lyman, and Shane Ojeda cleaning illegal dump sites from Chadbourne Tree Farms properties. Submitted photo

Bryson Carr, Andrew Leighton, Trenton Swallow, and Jacob Danforth Gordon stacking wood for a member of The Age Friendly Community. Submitted photo

Art Teacher Tera Ingraham, Emily Fraser, Emma Kruse, Devin Cole-Mason, Jack Mallory, Russell Haines, Grace Van Boskirk, Perry Morton, Logan Sumner, and Evan Laconney sporting the awesome t-shirts art teacher Tera Ingraham designed for all participating students and staff. Submitted photo

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