What began in April with a leadership conference attended by12 Christiansburg High students culminated last Friday when almost 400 students representing different clubs, organizations, athletic teams and classes spent several hours on the school campus working on 21 projects aimed at beautifying and improving the facilities and the campus.
Dubbed Project CHS, the idea was generated during a Virginia High School League (VHSL) Student Leadership Conference in the spring. Students from all over the state were encouraged to get together and select two or three projects they could replicate at their respective schools.
The CHS students got word at the conference about a community service day that other schools had organized. They grew excited about the prospect of planning a day dedicated to community service at CHS. Their initial plan was to work on projects throughout Christiansburg, but they were encouraged to start small, to focus on projects that involved students and staff collaborating to beautify and improve the school.
Four students came out of that conference to constitute what came to be called the core group for Project CHS: senior Garrett Kuchan, junior Tiffany Norman, senior Estefania Salomon and junior Kolby Brown. Other students from the leadership conference met with them and formed a group of 10-15 students who met consistently after school during spring semester and into the summer.
Project CHS picked up steam in the fall as members of the student leadership group committed as many as 20 hours per week to making plans, proposing projects, recruiting volunteers, procuring materials and donations and securing support from staff members to help with supervision of the projects.
If any student was the boss, the one who saw the project from conception to completion, it was Kuchan. Why would he dedicate so much time and so much effort into this project that literally took months? Christiansburg High “is an older school,” he explained. “But I felt it was important that we the students take pride in our school and its appearance.”
Kuchan knew this whole project had grown way beyond what any of them had imagined the first time they met in the school lunchroom with all the purported volunteers. It marked the first time the core group had seen them all together: all 400 of them. It was something of a shock to the leaders.
So Friday, Project CHS came to fruition: 400 students from 27 different organizations, teams and clubs selflessly working together on 21 different service projects simply for the sake of their school.
The projects and the groups that worked on them were 1) mulching and laying down a rock path in front of the principal’s office: Beta Club; 2) mulching the hilltop in front of the school: Social Club/Boys Basketball Team; 3) hillside project next to the gym steps with rocks, sea wall, “C” in the rocks: Health Occupation Students of America; 4) general repair and maintenance of the playground: Blue Demons United; 5) painting the football stadium bathrooms: National Honor Society/Black Student Awareness; 6) painting an outdoor classroom: National Art Honor Society/Cheerleaders;7) painting bathroom vinyls throughout the school: Skills USA/Save the Next Girl; 8) painting the trash cans in the music hallway: Chamber Ensemble; 9) painting the vinyls in the gym lobby: Wrestlers; 10) maintenance on the baseball field: Baseball Team; 11) painting pitchforks on the sidewalks along the parking lot: Fellowship of Christian Athletes; 12) Spirit Rock grounds improvement: Football Team; 13) making T-shirts for project leaders: Thespians; 14) cleaning entryway doors and vestibules along the front and back doors: Teens for a Better Tomorrow; 15) mulching trees along Independence Blvd.: Soccer, Futsal and Cross-Country squads; 16) painting pitchforks in the bus lane: Student Government Association; 17) providing maps and layouts for the projects: Technology Student Association; 18) raking leaves in front of the school: Environmental Club/Dodgeball Team; 19) cleaning and beautifying the CHS sign in front of the school: Future Farmers of America; 20) “recording the magic” of all the projects: Photography Club; 21) building birdhouses: carpentry class.