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FHS seniors give back to community

Several Farragut High School seniors made presentations to family and FHS faculty members as the final step in their Senior Project Independent Study class Wednesday, April 30, at FHS.

The class, which is taught by Brenda McGrath, requires the students to either do a research paper or 100 hours of community service per semester. Most students chose community service.

McGrath said she encourages the community service over the research because she wants the students to give back to their community.

“I want them to know that they were given a lot in this world, particularly those that live in this community and I want them to know that they need to give back. They need to know that if you have to get your hands dirty, then so be it; you do that,” McGrath said.

“I want the community to know the good things that Farragut High School does. I tell the kids when they come into Senior Project class, you are given so much, you are going to maintain the integrity of this program, you are going to show the community that you are going out and doing the things that the community wants to see and learn about,” she added.

Anyone who thinks these students are going out into the community and doing busy work to get out of school is vastly mistaken.

McGrath said, “The guys who worked at Goodwill did some really dirty work. They were surprised at what people donate to Goodwill. A lot of times it is just garbage, and they had to weed it out.

“I have gone so far as to call a couple of the mentors and say, ‘they need to be doing the dirty work. If it’s sweeping the floor, they better be doing it the best they can, or you tell me,’ and no one has ever told me they they didn’t do a good job,” she added.

One student in particular, Stephanie Over, got more work than she bargained for when she signed up for the class.

“I did my community service through Bridge [Refugee Settlement Service], which is an agency that settles refugees into America, more specifically in our Knoxville area. Initially I wanted to work in an animal shelter like the Young Williams Shelter or the Humane Society but they were both unwilling to help me. I had gone to both places a few times and they kept telling me to go call someone else. Finally a few days before deadline, a friend of mine suggested I work with his mother.

“I ended up at Bridge still not knowing what the agency was or how I could help,” Stephanie said.

During one memorable experience, Stephanie found herself thrust into a situation not many high school seniors have to face.

“One of our irregular volunteers had picked up a woman who had just given birth and had taken her to a primary care doctor’s office downtown. They asked me to go there, pick her up and take her home and do simple things with her. She had been there for about seven hours and she did not speak any English.

The nurses had no idea what to do with her, they couldn’t give her any medicine and she was in a lot of pain,” Stephanie said.

“So I was sent there and the nurses were really relieved because they thought I knew what to do and I had no idea.”

Rather than admit defeat, Stephanie took charge.

“I called a translator on the phone and relayed a lot of questions the nurses had, like what kind of allergies she had, basic questions that doctor’s offices need to treat someone. After about another hour-and-a-half of being there, they figured everything out,” she said.

“Finally, I took her and all of her bags and her child to my car. It took me about 20 minutes to figure out how to get the car seat in, but I took her home.

“The doctor had given me some prescriptions for her, so after I took her home and had her lay down and relax, I went to Walgreens and got her medicine. I went to Wal-Mart and picked up some food for her. Apparently she had not eaten in a while.

“I brought that back to her and explained to her how to use a diaper. I tried to explain how to use her medication but when it says every six hours or as needed, it is kind of difficult, but I did the best I could,” she added.

Stephanie said the experience taught her more than she had imagined.

“I realized how grateful some of these families are to be here and how grateful they are to us and our country for helping them to start a new life here.”


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