New Tech projects raise $2K for charities

November 7th, 2014

News Coverage:

New Tech projects raise $2K for charities

Posted: Thursday, November 6, 2014 11:00 pm | Updated: 7:35 am, Fri Nov 7, 2014.

By Caleb Whitmer

AUBURN — A group of high school students turned the unlikely team of zombies and famous rhetoricians into philanthropic cash about a month ago.

DeKalb High School New Tech students raised $2,066 through their joint Zombie run and art show in downtown Auburn. They split the fruits of their labors four ways and, on Thursday, presented them to DeKalb County Impact Corp., the DeKalb Humane Society, Warm-a-Heart and NeighborLink.

Diane Reynolds, a board member of Warm-a-Heart, expressed her gratitude for the students’ donation.

“It’s great to see the kids give back to the community,” she said.

As part of New Tech’s “project-based learning,” the idea behind the run and show was to teach students through practical experience, explained DeKalb English teacher Nancy Irwin. Two separate classes participated in the event: business-English students and art-English students.

Beyond normal classroom tasks, such as papers and drawings, students had to take their rhetoric and art skills public. The business-English students wrote proposals and navigated all the details of organizing a road race, and the art-English students designed and sold the art-show pieces themselves.

While the weather was poor, more than 100 people turned out for the race, Irwin said. They raised about $1,500 from entry fees.

The art show displayed around 110 pieces and sold more than 75 at $7 each, said DeKalb art teacher Amy Buchs.

Each art-English student created three signs for the show. The students themed them around inspirational speeches given by the likes of politicians Winston Churchill and Eric Pickles of Great Britain.

The art class nixes traditional art projects, such as still-life drawings or sculptures, for more commercial-friendly disciplines such as graphic design, while still teaching fundamental art principles, Buchs said.

“They still learn the skills, but I think they take more pride in it because of the real-world application,” Buchs said.

Thirty or so of the freshman students gathered in Brewed Awakenings on Thursday to present oversized checks to the four local charities, sipping on mochas and iced-coffee drinks while small groups of their classmates ceremonially made the exchanges.

Sitting at a table, art students Julie Steinman, Dylan Gallagher and Brayton Spangler all said they were glad to be a part of the philanthropic project.

“After we were done, I felt like a better person helping the community,” Gallagher said.

Steinman said that the class’s research on charities, while deciding which charities to donate the money to, opened her eyes to how much philanthropy is going on in Auburn.

“It sounds kind of selfish, but I had no idea,” Steinman said.

Irwin said New Tech is always looking for community partners on its projects — people who can help facilitate that connection between theory and application.

“We are art teachers, business teachers, English teachers, but what we want is community involvement” to strengthen the program, Irwin said.

Brewed Awakenings’ owner Jeremiah Otis has helped the New Tech students with several projects. He said his involvement is all about teaching kids to take pride in their community.

“How many people grow up in their hometown and think, ‘I can’t wait to get out of here’?” Otis said. “That’s how communities die.”

He said student-projects like the run and art show make the community stronger by deepening the kids’ connections to their town.