A rite of passage: Bitney Prep students take on senior projects, help community
The Senior Project is a rite of passage for many Nevada County students, but at Bitney Prep Charter High School this assignment is also about giving back to the community.
“We spend a great amount of focus getting our students to be prepared for their future, but at Bitney we believe that part of that future needs to be service-oriented as well,” says Bitney Prep 12th grade advisor Alison Harper. “We know that living a good life includes supporting your neighbors.”
A great example of this ethos can be seen in the project of Bitney Prep High School senior Mia McKnight’s project, organizing and creating a community crochet blanket to be donated to the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital. Mia chose this project for personal reasons. When she was five years old, she dislocated her shoulder and ended up in the hospital. She still remembers the experience of being in pain, in a strange place, as being frightening. But, as Mia says, “The staff at the hospital were extremely kind and gifted me a crochet blanket for comfort. It meant a lot to me and helped calm me down. I still have the blanket and it still gives me comfort.“
Because of the realities of life during the pandemic, Mia realized that many people who end up in the hospital for COVID-19 related reasons or otherwise are not able to have their family with them and are left in a potentially terrifying and foreign situation alone. Reflecting on her personal experience, Mia realized “that by being able to provide a comfort item to at least one of these patients would lessen their feeling of fear and isolation, just like it did for me.”
Mia conceived of this as a community project for her high school. “Any Bitney student, teacher, or parent who is interested can participate by crocheting a number of granny squares which will be given back to me and sewn into a large blanket. It will have the personality of everyone who participates and hopefully bring joy to the one who receives it. It will also help our Bitney community feel more involved.”
Mia’s teachers are impressed with her commitment to this project and the organizational skills she is demonstrating through this project. “Reflecting on personal experience, discovering the things that made a difference for you, and then taking those realizations to better your community is such a Bitney Prep thing,” says Harper. “As much as we want our students to be successful, we also want them to be service-minded. Mia is a great example of this.”
As this school year continues and graduation looms, it’s more important than ever for high school seniors to understand that their individual accomplishments and the health of their community are intricately linked. The changes brought about COVID-19 have only exacerbated this. Mia McKnight says it best. “My hope is that my senior project will bring our Bitney Prep community closer together by doing something for the bigger community. I also hope to lessen the suffering of people. Being sick and being alone is scary and if some of those people feel like someone cares about them at that moment, then it will hopefully lessen their suffering.”
Source: Bitney Prep High School
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