Team Ike Ignition brought home the gold to the community and to Eisenhower High for the second year in a row.
Salvation Army, EHS to reap benefits
The student-led team, sponsored by teachers Michelle Churchwell and Daryl Garner, just received word they won the grand prize in the 2017 Lead2Feed Challenge. They will be awarded $20,000 to give to the Salvation Army, their school's nonprofit of choice, and Eisenhower High will receive a $10,000 technology grant.
The student-led team was one of only five teams across the nation to receive the grand prize.
The win means that the Salvation Army and those who need their help benefit, the school benefits, and the students benefit in many ways by participating in the Lead2Feed program, Churchwell said.
"The mentors (10th- through 12th-graders) are learning how to lead a team, motivate and encourage team members and they gain all the leadership skills," Churchwell said. Not only will these skills be valuable for the rest of their life, the ninth-graders can be inspired to apply to be a mentor in future years.
But those skills are not the most important benefit the students gain, she said.
"More important than the leadership skills, they gain the empathy and drive to do something about the problems in the community," Churchwell said.
Building on success
Last year, the Ike Ignition team won a special award, called the "All In" award from Lead2Feed. The award was designed just for the Eisenhower High team for their outstanding work in devising and completing service learning projects. The special award resulted in $25,000 going to Salvation Army and a $10,000 technology grant to the school, Churchwell said.
The student-led team did not want to rest on its laurels from last year's win.
"This year we want to be able to outdo what we did last year," Churchwell said, explaining that the students set both fundraising and hours volunteered goals.
"Last year they raised $2,500, and the goal this year was to raise $4,000. We were able to do that," Churchwell said. In order to raise the money, the team held different events including a teacher talent show, a hungry games carnival and a geocache scavenger hunt.
Students donate hundreds of hours
"We don't just raise funds, we do volunteer work," she said. The students donated hundreds of hours of volunteer time at the Salvation Army Food Pantry. "There were 70 mentors and they all volunteered together."
Each school year, the first semester of the Ike Ignition program, a required class for every ninth-grader to introduce them to high school life, is mentored by 10th through 12th graders. During the second semester, which has not been required for ninth-graders, the Lead2Feed service training program is the focus. Eisenhower High incorporated Lead2Feed, a student-led, service training program in the school five years ago, the same year the national Lead2Feed program was founded, Churchwell said.
In a May 16 press release from the Lead2Feed program, the Ike Ignition team was cited.
Eisenhower's team "wanted to achieve and exceed the legacy of the school's 'All In' Lead2Feed award from last year. They took their efforts to volunteer, fund raise and educate students as well as schools across Oklahoma to alleviate hunger in their communities. The biggest takeaway for these students was learning communication, optimism and flexibility as necessary tools for leading a team."