Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Darfur Project; An EO Smith Success Story that is Great!

Saturday's Courant ran a back story on an event that EO Smith seniors sponsored a few weeks ago. Entitled Service Project Was Smith Grad's Salvation By Melissa Bruen, it tells the story of how the event came to be.
[Anthony Brashier's] English class, taught by Nicole "Waz" Waicunas, had been studying the Holocaust in February when Brashier spoke up and asked what they, as a class, were going to do about the genocide in Darfur. With the permission of the principal, Waicunas threw out the syllabus and allowed her students to drive the direction of the class.

Brashier became one of the leaders on the project and began attending school every day. He and some of his classmates worked on planning events, such as the festival, to raise awareness about Darfur. For two months, they worked most days from when school let out until 5 or 6 p.m.

"I told Anthony again, as I try to remind all my students, that he was a star, that he had a special mission to accomplish in this world that was entrusted to no one but him," Pivarnik said. "Weeks before graduation, Anthony took the lead and ignited the senior class to respond to the devastation and genocide in Darfur."

Brashier said the senior class raised $15,000 to send to Darfur.

Over the course of the last year, "I learned anyone has the opportunity to pull themselves up," Brashier said. "Any kid or adult - I am an adult, and I have been for a while - I recommend to find something that drives you. It doesn't have to be organizing an event, or doing something lofty, but do something that inspired you."
What I love about this story is that Anthony Brashier was a student at risk of dropping out and the school did something extraordinary.
Last fall, Anthony Brashier was starting his senior year at E.O. Smith High School, but graduation and the future were the last of his concerns.

His home life was unstable and becoming too overwhelming to deal with, so Brashier, 18, said he began skipping school a lot.

"I didn't think it was possible to graduate, given my family situation," Brashier said. "I was going to go the whole GED route."

But his passion for helping others and the constant push from guidance counselor Barbara Pivarnik motivated him to turn his life around and lead his class and the school in raising money for the crisis in Darfur. He graduated alongside his classmates Tuesday night.
What the article fails to mention is that the event attracted Joe Courtney and Peter Tork to attend.

As a school board member I am never more proud of EO Smith than when it sheds the NCLB bullshit agenda and does what schools are supposed to do. Bruce Silva, Lou Deloreto, Barbara Pavarnik, Nicole "Waz" Waicunas, the senior class and everyone else pulling this together deserve State recognition for giving a damn and making it count.

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