JACKSON, MO (KFVS) - Jackson High School Freshman took part in a class assignment that took them to a new level of learning this school year.
The assignment is called Passion Projects. Students chose any type of project they were passionate about in several different areas to choose from. Those areas include; raise money/donate to charity, create a product, volunteer, self-improvement, school improvement proposals and more.
Jackson High School ELA Teacher Ashley Raney is one of three teachers that presented the project to the students in November last year.
"The 9th grade students have to research and they have to present something, Raney explained. "We wanted to make it more of a real world experience for them and not just a paper that they'll forget about. Something that is meaningful and more memorable."
Heartland News spoke with several students about what projects they wanted to invest in and the impact it had on them and the community.
Freshmen Owen Evans and Carson Hartlein both collected and donated sports equipment to different organizations. Evans donated 156 items to Big Brother, Big Sister while Hartlein donated 206 items to the Hope for One More organization.
"It makes me feel very grateful that I was able to give all this stuff to them so they could play more sports and be happy," Evans said.
Both Evans and Hartlein made flyers and broadcasted them on social media sites. They both said it's nice to see so many people that wanted to help them out and give to those children in need in both of those organizations.
"It made me think of others more than I did before," Hartlein stated. "Thinking of other's lives and how good I have it; how others might not have the opportunities that I have."
Another student, Keeley Fitzpatrick, learned the art of knitting. She then knitted 50 hats for newborns in the NICU unit at Southeast Health.
Fitzpatrick spent two months working on the hats and evolved her project from the memory of her younger sister when she was a baby wearing a hat. She said she wanted to give back to other families when they have their special moment.
"Giving to a new family makes it more special to them,"Fitzpatrick mentioned. "It lets them know that others care about their child. Not only just them caring about their child but others care as well."
Fitzpatrick added that a small gesture like knitting a hat can go a long way.
"It's great to think that I could be a part of something so little, but so big for them," Fitzpatrick added.
The project also allowed students to shadow other and research future job avenues.
Kayleigh Kunkel decided to invest in a life-long area of interest that she is passionate about.
"I went to SEMO and I job shadowed for sports broadcasting at the Rose Theatre because I want to be a sports broadcaster when I grow up," Kunkel described. "I went behind the scenes and I was able to see the camera work and the different angles that they view the games at. It was really cool."
Kunkel feels this is an area that she could benefit from getting a head start in and taking advantage of opportunities for her to get involved with.
"As a woman growing up in this modern century, it's hard for me to be able to go into a field dominated by men," Kunkel said. "One day I am going to be able to do this. I am going to have to push through and it's going to be awesome."
Raney said she saw a lot of growth from the students as they worked through their Passion Project. Raney said that despite the obstacles they encountered, they persevered and are stronger individuals because of it.
"You could see that the students were so proud of themselves for seeing something through," Raney stated. "A lot of the students were met with obstacles and were able to overcome them. They were so proud of what they were able to accomplish. It's not just some random assignment."
Furthermore, with the conclusion of their projects, they hope they were able to reach others to either find something they are passionate about or help pay it forward in helping others.