Elizabethton High School students launch projects to improve their community

ELIZABETHTON, TN (WJHL)- Last year, Elizabethton High School students competed nationally and their idea of the Bartleby program won them $200,000.

With that money, the “Bartleby Community Improvement Class” started, and just wrapped up its first semester. The program aims to apply state standards in real world projects.

In this program each student develops a community program based on needs they see with the help of a mentor.

This semester more than a dozen students spotted a need, made a plan, and launched a project to help fill that need.

Elizabethton High School Junior Mckenna Kiser started a peer-to-peer support group called STRIVE. It’s for students who struggle with mental illness like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.

Kiser said through the class she has found her career path.

Mckenna meets with a professor at Milligan College, learning solutions and techniques that she passes on to students in strive.

“A lot of students don’t have that support system at home and I noticed that in my fellow peers and classmates,” Kiser said. “I just saw this huge gap in the society so I’m trying to fix it and have a support system for teens that need it.”

Kiser said the biggest thing she needs help with right now is funding.

“Right now I’m paying for all of the materials out of my Chic-Fil-A paycheck so we really do need funding for the opportunities for these kids,” Kiser said.

She said she tries to make the group relatable, have fun game nights, as well as more serious sessions, classes, and volunteer projects.

Kiser said she could see a future career in this.

“I found something I’m good at and helping these kids has just been so life-changing so if I can keep going and help kids nationally that would be such a success for me,” Kiser said.

Another student, Senior Sadie Whitehead created a program that brings hands-on learning in to the elementary schools, giving them a taste of future subjects they’ll learn in school, how they pertain to real world jobs, and clubs they can look forward to.

“Letting them explore a little bit more of these subjects a little more in depth you can really see their interest being peaked and them kind of putting the pieces together in their mind,” Whitehead said. “The cool thing is is that I’m taking highschoolers from inside my school that are passionate about certain subject areas and know a lot about it.”

Some of the other projects developed in the Bartleby class include Tweetsie Trail cleanup, revitalizing Kiwanis Park, veteran assistance, and downtown Elizabethton beautification.

This semester, with the support and guidance of community leaders, these students have worked a combined 3,000 hours on their projects to improve the Elizabethton community.

This program isn’t just for straight A students, you’ll find a variety of students in the Bartleby program, all working to improve their Elizabethton community.

Next semester, 15 students will participate in the Bartleby entrepreneurship class, where the goal is to plan and establish businesses that fill economic gaps, according to Bekah Price with Elizabethton City Schools.

Copyright 2017 WJHL. All Rights Reserved.

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