May 12, 2017
Jersey Village High School freshmen students Isabella Garcia, left, and Margarita Garza participate in an Ambassadors of Compassion event on May 2. (Photo by Iliana Ramirez, Jersey Village HS)
By Ashlynn Smith and Iliana Ramirez, Jersey Village HS
May 12, 2017—As the 2016-2017 school year comes to a close, testing and various other events take place weekly. There was a change of plans for the Jersey Village High School freshman class, however. This year, freshmen students who were not taking the Algebra I STAAR took part in a unique outreach program on May 2.
The Ambassadors of Compassion, Impact Houston and Stacy Leonard, academic achievement specialist, separated freshman students into several groups labeled J, V, H and S. In these groups, they learned about compassion, completed service projects and heard from four different speakers.
Justin Bowers with the Ambassadors of Compassion leads a team building event for Jersey Village freshmen on May 2. (Photo by Iliana Ramirez, Jersey Village HS)
“I want them to be able to show compassion today. We want them to be able to say I’m not thinking of myself today, I’m thinking about how I can show compassion,” Jenifer Rayphole, Ambassador of Kindness volunteer, said.
Throughout the day, students made placemats for prison inmates, distributed food into charity bags and created pompoms for students at Post Elementary School. Through these activities, the freshmen students came to the realization of what volunteering can do for others, and the impact it can have on their lives.
Jersey Village freshmen students enjoy a presentation during a compassion and service event on May 2. Pictured, from left, are Ilana Gomez, Emily Gonzalez, Margarita Garza, Patrick Dunn, Mayra Garcia, Analiyah Landin and Christian Guerra. (Photo by Iliana Ramirez, Jersey Village HS)
“Some people aren’t as fortunate as I am, so it felt really nice to use my time to help and try to provide for others,” freshman Evelyn Kennedy said.
To conclude the event, guest speaker Derrek Dempsey gave an influential speech about how the actions made presently predict the outcome of one’s future. Coming from a history of gang activity, domestic abuse and incarceration, he wanted to share his story of being able to overcome his negative past.
Ambassadors of Compassion representative Rick Bruce watches as freshmen students Skylar Johnson, left, and William Fuentes participate in a game during a compassion and service event on May 2. (Photo by Iliana Ramirez, Jersey Village HS)
“I started hanging out with the wrong people. I did these things not knowing that those bad choices I was making would end up destroying my life, and continue to make things worse and worse,” Dempsey said.
Organizers are now collecting surveys and other forms of feedback from the students in attendance in hopes to continue it in future years. Many students are even writing thank you notes to the guest speakers.
Speaker Derrek Dempsey gives a motivational speech to Jersey Village freshmen during a compassion and service event on May 2. (Photo by Iliana Ramirez, Jersey Village HS)
“My hope is that we will continue this program and build upon it in coming years. We are collecting feedback from students and staff members which will help determine the course for the future,” Leonard said.