Junior High Students Put Spotlight on Homelessness
“It really is a problem here. We had no idea.”
By Nate Cate
Students in Art Greco’s World of Business class looked nervous.
“The newspaper is here,” whispered one of the students, as others closed their notebooks or sat up straighter.
The dozen or so students of Greco’s class on Dec. 21 had already announced their semester-long fundraising project would benefit the Salvation Army Hope Center, but prior to Winter Break hadn’t began advertising the project outside of the Ben Franklin Jr. High.
Despite that, the class has already made it about $400 to their goal.
“People in Stevens Point and Portage County, as a whole, don’t realize how big of a problem homelessness is,” said Leah Earnest, a 15-year-old student in Greco’s class. “I didn’t even know how big of a problem it was until we started digging into it further.”
Grayson Brandle, 14, said he assumed there were about 50 homeless people in the county.
“But it’s higher than that — there are over 300 homeless people in the county,” he said, referring to information the class received from the Hope Center. “It really is a problem here; we had no idea.”
“It’s just really sad, how we don’t really think about it,” said classmate Paige Pieper, 15. “Especially during Christmas, when we are in our warm houses and they are outside.”
Greco, whose World of Business class was once called “Microsoft Applications”, developed the class as a hands-on, real-world business experience for students. Each semester, the students chose to create either a for-profit business or nonprofit organization, then create the entity from the ground-up, starting with a business plan.
“They develop everything; they decide what to do, they make all the cold calls, they advertise,” said Greco. “It’s 100 percent student-driven, so it’s a good way for them to learn that just like in life, they get out of it when they put in.”
So far, the class has raised funds through school bake sales, donations from local business and bell-ringing for the Salvation Army.
The group plans to reach its goal for the Hope Center by Jan. 11. Donations can be sent to: Art Greco, w/o World of Business, Ben Franklin Jr. High, 2000 Polk St., Stevens Point, Wis., 54481.
For more information contact Greco at [email protected].