Posted by the St. Louis American on July 20, 2017:

Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls, the state's only all-girls public school located in North St. Louis, creates a capstone project to teach social responsibility and leadership skills to its eighth grade students.

This year, the eighth-grade class broke off into small groups and tackled issues ranging from homelessness to bullying.

"It's really incredible to see our students working together to find solutions to community issues," said Julia Hercules, dean of student life and community affairs.

"One of my students, upon seeing the impact of her environmental project, said to me, 'When we first started this it just seemed like a big idea, but now it's here.' That was inspiring."

With the help of their teachers and a number of World Wide Technology employees, the young ladies were tasked with addressing a problem of their choice in their neighborhoods. This allowed the students to get creative and learn about social responsibility.

For homelessness, they decided to start within their own school. After polling students, they found that 80 percent of their student population required lunch assistance. They also discovered that some of their fellow classmates even worried about where they'd get their next meal after school.

To address this issue, the students raised money and collected non-perishable food items for the non-profit Operation Food Search. Their goal is to collaborate with Operation Backpack and create a long-lasting partnership. Next year they want to send students who are food-insecure home with a backpack full of food supplies every weekend.

For bullying, the students created a mentorship program that they believed would help create a culture of non-violence and friendship. They were inspired by a presentation by Tina Meier from the Megan Meier Foundation. Their program will pair older students with younger students to combat bullying.

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