WORTHINGTON, OH (WCMH) — A dream came to life Monday night, on the stage at Worthington Kilbourne High School, as elementary students from all over the district celebrated a community service project in song.
The Director of Elementary Education at Worthington City Schools, Patrick Callaghan, was inspired when he attended a Harmony Project concert last year.
He decided to apply Harmony Project’s mission of service and song to elementary school students, and the Hands and Voices of Hope Project was born.
Callaghan asked principals from each of the district’s 11 elementary schools to identify 10 students who had the potential to be leaders. The principals hand-selected students they believed in, even when the students did not believe in themselves.
“I never would have thought I would be picked because I do have a smart mouth,” said Slate Elementary School 6th grader Briana Deberry.
But, Deberry was selected, and says the project taught her the importance of respecting her teachers and the responsibility that comes with being a “character ambassador.”
She told NBC4 the students involved in the project practice virtues, including perseverance and compassion, and “just being kind to others.”
The students took part in community service projects, including raising funds for food banks for people and pets in the Worthington area.
“These kids had the chance for memorable experiences and leadership they might not have otherwise had,” said Worthington Park music teacher, Allie Garner.
Garner and the music teacher from Liberty Elementary, Brenda Leary, directed the student chorus.
Leary says the students set individual goals and met each week with the principal at their school to talk about progress and the leadership skills they were developing.
“I just want them to know they are empowered for changing the world,” said Leary. “Changing their own lives, changing their schools, changing their community. They have responsibility, and they have the power to shape the kind of life and the kind of world we live in. These kids are our future.”