For a high school student, getting involved in the community can be very satisfying. It allows the student to give back and possibly to mentor younger students. There are practical benefits too. Colleges can see how you show passion outside of your academic or sports commitments. And many students have a certain amount of community service hours required each semester. Getting involved in a community service project means you really never have to think about how you are going to get those hours.
When I was in high school I started a GeoPlunge club where we coached students at my former elementary school. It was a great experience for me and easy to arrange.
Creating a High School GeoPlunge Club
At the high school, I began by going to one of my teachers to see if he would serve as a faculty sponsor for a new club and I explained to him how a GeoPlunge club could benefit both high school and elementary school students. He agreed to be a sponsor. I then began recruiting club members from among my high school friends. Within no time, I had a few other mentors ready to go.
Next, I contacted my sixth-grade teacher at my former elementary school. I had the advantage that my sixth-grade teacher knew about GeoPlunge because we had played it when I was in her class. She knew that students would be excited about GeoPlunge as an after-school activity. She asked me to create a flyer that she could send home with students to gauge interest. There were about 25 students interested so she agreed that we could start a GeoPlunge club once a week at the school and she would be the faculty sponsor at the elementary level.
Once a week, my high school friends and I went over to the elementary school and helped run a one-hour club, teaching the students the game and practicing different strategies with them. My friends and I had a lot of fun doing this and the elementary students were excited too. At first, we spent a lot of time teaching the game and strategies. The students were extremely engaged and always looking to improve. Before long the elementary students had mastered the game and our main purpose was to try to keep the noise at a reasonable level – the students were so excited playing and learning that it could get quite loud in the room.
Our First GeoPlunge Tournament
We prepared the students for an upcoming GeoPlunge tournament in Washington, D.C. Since we were in Northern Virginia and a D.C. GeoPlunge tournament was set to take place in May, we prepared the students so that they could compete in the tournament. I came up with a scoring system so that we could objectively choose the best players to compete in the D.C. tournament. Almost the entire high school club went to the tournament to volunteer. The elementary school team performed very well.
The experience was even more fun than I had envisioned. I did not realize how much fun it would be to go back to my old elementary school and help kids that are going through the same classes as I had and to watch them grow as they learned new techniques and acquired more knowledge. I looked forward to going each week, as it was exciting to see the improvement and it was a great atmosphere. Over time we got to know the elementary school students and we discussed more than GeoPlunge with them. We were also able to give them advice about their academic future going into middle and high school.
Ryan is on the LearningPlunge Board of Directors. He attended Duke University, was a Software Engineer at Microsoft Corporation in Seattle, and now works as an Associate at Goldman Sachs in New York City.