Dedicating Time to an Unnoticed Community: How These Three Students Went Above and Beyond During Their Final Year of High School

Dedicating Time to an Unnoticed Community: How These Three Students Went Above and Beyond During Their Final Year of High School

Samantha Deras

The three students came in talking and laughing, sharing inside jokes and reflecting back on their project. They made themselves comfortable and used their backpacks to prop themselves up. Being stuck on what to do for their final year here at South Windsor High School, these three seniors set out to inspire urban youth. 12th graders Marianaly Cadiz, Marielix Heredia, and Malachi O’Neal decided to team up for their capstone project and were able to truly make a difference. 

With their project being rated overall highly successful, the three seniors created a series of workshops for urban youth at our local Timothy Edwards Middle School. They guided these students to become better people in and outside of school through games, small group activities, and one on one talks. They engaged in important conversations that weren’t spoken in their classes, creating a comfortable environment for them. 

Senior Marielix Heredia said about the project, “We learned how to interact with them, build relationships and patience.”

“At first it was challenging, but once the kids opened up to us it was easier,” said Malachi O’Neal about his experience.

This group of seniors were also able to take their students out on a field trip, allowing them to visit Central Connecticut State University to have them thinking about college and life beyond high school. Although it was exciting, it appears that certain middle school students appreciated the trip more than others, with Marianaly Cadiz saying, “Going to CCSU, they didn’t really want to talk about the college experience, yet I’m glad that we gave them the opportunity to do so.”

Cadiz, O’Neal, and Heredia met with the middle schoolers multiple times a month over a series of a few weeks, always encouraging them to communicate with each other more. When asked about what they thought were the strengths and weaknesses of their project, all three seniors claimed that they wished they could’ve dedicated more time to the older kids as they seemed more receptive to their efforts. 

Despite these difficulties, their project and presentation was very successful and earned them the Senior honor cord. When summarizing their thoughts and experiences and reflecting on the impact they made, Cadiz said, “I think I had an impact on them, maybe some more than others, yet I was happy to dedicate my time to them.”

So, let’s try to appreciate underprivileged communities a little more, and have their voices heard.