In a virtual meeting, the students of GVP’s inaugural Rising Scholars Society are brainstorming about the objectives of their service project. The students have decided to focus on initiatives related to advocacy and awareness now that the possibilities of a more interactive project are unlikely. While they’re not sure yet what their end product will look like, the girls know that their goal is to send messages of compassion and empathy to those experiencing homelessness.
All the Form 3 students this year opted to join the new Rising Scholars Society (RSS), a pilot program that was launched at GVP this school year. Designed for students in their last semester at GVP, the program is focused on leadership development, 21st century skills, preparing for high school, and college and career readiness. The goal is to equip these young women with the skills and confidence they need to be leaders in high school and beyond.
RSS activities can look very different from one day to the next. On one day in January, students found themselves testing out their collaboration and problem-solving skills while completing a scavenger hunt. Other meetings this semester have been spent learning about how to prepare for college, discussing different styles of leadership, and exploring personal strengths.
Students have even gotten to meet powerful women leaders in real life: on March 12, Lucy Kocharyan, who received the 2020 International Women of Courage Award from the U.S. Department of State, visited the school and did a Q&A with the Rising Scholars. Ms. Kocharyan told students about how she has used her voice to bring attention to issues affecting women and children in her country of Armenia. GVP students then shared their own thoughts about gender inequality and the importance of being independent women. Walking away from the discussion, one student said of Kocharyan, “I thought she was really inspiring.”
As the Scholars have explored their own paths to inspiring leadership this year, the program’s culminating activity will be their collective service project. The project is one they are expected to take full ownership over, and the students have already been mulling over ideas for how they can help other people. With guidance from academic coordinators Katelynn Villari and Cassie Leymarie, the students are responsible for identifying a needin the community and designing and executing their own project to make a positive impact. The objective is to give students a real-life, hands-on opportunity to help change the world around them for the better.
This year, some of the direct service initiatives the Scholars had originally envisioned have had to be set aside in light of the coronavirus pandemic. However, the students still hope to make a difference by finding creative ways to communicate to people experiencing homelessness that they are not unloved or alone. They are exploring the possibility of creating signs or posters with loving messages to share in public, or even making supportive bracelets. Through whatever means they end up pursuing, the students hope to give people experiencing homelessness an uplifting boost of compassion. They want to show people who are struggling during this time love and kindness – “just in case,” one Scholar notes, “they don’t have anyone to love them, if they are lonely.” The Scholars will complete their service project before they complete classes on May 15th.