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Indian Trail students use service project to help student body


The annual tradition of student-led service projects at Indian Trail Intermediate School have benefitted the community for years. But this year a group of students wanted to benefit some of their own.

With that in mind, sixth-grade students from Cougar 2 Hall - under the leadership of their teachers Anna Smitley, Sommer Byler and Joe Crabtree - noticed that Tara Crosby’s comprehensive development students were housed in a hall with no name. That inspired the 77 students that make up Cougar 2 Hall to christen the blank hall as Raptor Hall and they’ve been working toward raising the funds to paint the mural.

“We decided to do this because we feel like everyone in this community should be involved,” Indian Trail 6th-grader Camden Copenhaver said.

The Raptor name isn’t to honor the dinosaur, but instead honor different birds of prey.

Sixth-grader Rose Honeycutt said that she couldn’t think of a better name to honor the strength of the students it houses. 

“We wanted something that would represent our hall and its students, and we wanted it to be very strong,” Honeycutt said. 

The group has already raised $1,000 toward the mural and they are hoping to raise another $1,000 to complete the mural with the help of art teacher Michelle O’Patrick-Ollis. The money not used for the new Raptor Hall mural will go into touching-up other murals across the school.  A

While the service projects aren’t required by the school, the teams and team leaders take them on in an effort to help develop students beyond academics, both socially and emotionally. Each Friday, the teams meet to discuss the week before and they also discuss other current topics.

Smitley said that the purpose of the student-led service projects is to empower the students with the knowledge that they can make a difference in their community and school.

“We want kids to understand that they have a voice and that even in 5th and 6th grade, you can do something positive for your community and have a big impact,” Smitley said. “Watching them plan, collaborate, and take charge of these projects is something a teacher never forgets.”

Crosby said that her students have also gained a lot of the project and have been very appreciative of the work that has been done on their behalf. 

“My students have been very excited to have more opportunities to spend time with our Cougar friends through this process,” Crosby said. "As the Cougar Hall students have taken the time to get to know my students I think they may be the ones getting more out of this endeavor than my students.  

“My students love to see the Cougar classmates around school and give high-fives or socialize with them during Team Time, which may not have happened in the past as they would have hesitated more to approach them.”

The Cougar 2 Hall students selected the service project after voting from a few different ideas, then they split themselves into two groups, the presentation group and the “behind the scenes” group.

The presentation group was responsible for spreading the message across the school and the community - even volunteering to stay inside during recess to practice their presentation.

The behind the scenes group would e-mail potential donors during their spare time and correspond with the administration, bookkeeper and artist to figure out the details. They also made flyers and came up with the fundraiser for the hall that raised the most money. 

All indications are that the project will be completed by the end of the school year and while some students may not be around to see the finished product, Smitley said the things they learned will follow them. 

“They may be 11-12 years old, but they are doing things that adults do every day,” Smitley said. “You are actually watching the next generation of community and world leaders learn how to have a voice and use that voice to help others.”