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HCC Students Empowered To Take Action

The message for students at H.C. Crittenden Middle School this week was clear: One person can make a difference. And that person could be any one of the students who participated in the school’s annual Power of One Day yesterday.

Mawi Asgedom, who survived the Ethiopian civil war & Sudanese refugee camps to become a Harvard grad

Mawi Asgedom, who survived the Ethiopian civil war & Sudanese refugee camps to become a Harvard grad

The day started with an inspirational keynote address from author Mawi Asgedom, an Ethiopian civil war refugee who went on to graduate from Harvard. His story is itself a lesson in people making a difference; from the will of his mother who walked for 10 weeks with three small children to safety, to the workers at the United Nations refugee camp where the family sought sanctuary, to the individuals that helped them settle in the United States.

Challenging students to embrace the notion of the Power of One and take action as an individual, Mr. Asgedom told students, “A speech is not about the presenter, it’s about the audience and what they take away from the speech.” He described his own isolation as a first grader in a Chicago elementary school, and encouraged students to “see the invisible people,” retelling his first experience of being invited to a classmate’s birthday party. He told students that they all had a “turbo button,” which they could choose to hit any time to make a difference, but when they did, he cautioned, “You always want to think about the dignity of the person you are serving.”

Mr. Asgedom donated 52 copies of his memoir, “Of Beetles and Angels,” for sale at the school, with proceeds going to a children’s home in Ethiopia.

Sixth graders then went on take part in one of 17 workshops, each illustrating how they can participate in a cause and make a difference. Workshops ranged from learning about homelessness and making pillowcases for shelters, to stuffing teddy bears for the Heavenly Productions Foundation to give to children in distress. Byram Hills High School senior Samantha Errico conducted a workshop about her Pocket Full of Sunshine charity dedicated to helping people who live in extreme poverty in Mexico.

Power of One Day was a community affair and included Town Councilman Michael Schiliro running a composting and recycling workshop and encouraging students to adopt green lifestyles. Even lunch period involved consciousness raising, with students running a variety of fundraisers, many conceived and created that morning.

Social studies teacher Sheila St. Onge, who together with language arts teacher Mary Staudt conceived Power of One Day seven years ago, said students were obviously inspired to by the keynote speaker. “Crittenden pushed its ‘Turbo button’ as Mr. Asgedom challenged them to do,” she said. “We did fundraisers for Heifer International, pediatric cancer research and for Mr. Asgedom’s charity, supporting those in refugee camps in Ethiopia.”

The day certainly made an impression on one sixth grader. Said Ishmael Asad, “I will be telling my parents about how many good things our school has been able to do in just one day!”

Sixth graders stuff teddy bears in a workshop with the Heavenly Productions Foundation

Sixth graders stuff teddy bears in a workshop with the Heavenly Productions Foundation

 

Sixth graders stuff teddy bears in a workshop with the Heavenly Productions Foundation

Sixth graders stuff teddy bears in a workshop with the Heavenly Productions Foundation

Source:  Bryam Hills News