• June 6Seniors: mandatory grad practice at 10:35 a.m. at the VBCC on Monday, June10.
  • June 5Good luck to spring sports athletes as they continue into post-season play.
  • June 5Seniors: mandatory graduation meeting held at the school on Tuesday, June 11, at noon.
  • May 29Graduation will take place on June 14, at 1 p.m., at the Virginia Beach Convention Center.
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The student news site of Frank W. Cox High School

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The student news site of Frank W. Cox High School

Falcon Press News

CHS VTFT students become role models for fifth graders at John B. Dey, first ever ‘Day of Service’

CHS VTFT STUDENTS teach JBD fifth graders the importance of community service. “I hope the students learn[ed] how to get more involved in their community and take responsibility and have a little fun at the same time,” fifth-grade teacher Mr. Cress said. (Samantha Radford)
CHS Virginia Teachers for Tomorrow (VTFT) teacher Jennifer Nardelli and her students paired with fifth grade students at John B. Dey Elementary School for their first-ever Day of Service on Jan. 26.

According to Nardelli, each year when school starts, the VTFT II students are tasked with doing a big project together.

The “Day of Service” event was led by seniors Katie Sager and Will Slevin.

Sager and Slevin initiated the idea to help fifth graders learn about the importance of community service.

“I want them to know that there are people that are doing worse than you and that you can help just by doing simple acts like this,” Slevin said.

VTFT students acted as role models to the younger students as they split into groups of two, in which each group led 10 to 15 elementary students to teach “future Falcons” about the importance of helping their community through community service.

“The students are awesome,” Nardelli said. “They’re just at that age where they can get into community service and do these service projects on their own, so we just wanted to kind of expose them to it.”

Prior to the Day of Service, VTFT created three workshops for fifth graders to prepare them for their transition into sixth grade. Then, after searching for an organization to help them with the event on the internet, Nardelli and her students found their answer: Youth Volunteer Corps of Hampton Roads (YVCHR). Program organizer Kiley Jensen sat down with the kids and picked 10 organizations for the Day of Service event.

The organizations involved included: The Tidewater Foster Organization, Greater Hampton Roads Diaper Bank, Virginia Beach Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Lasagna Love, Mercy Chefs, Samaritan House, Students Rebuild, VB Counseling, Lynnhaven River Now and Preston Homes.

Jensen said it’s important for fifth graders to get involved early in life. “Whether that be environment, whether that be elderly, whether that be children, there are so many different needs,” Jensen said. “When they start early, they get involved and get more excited about it, it can lead to an ethic of service to last a lifetime.”

The VTFT students were then tasked with creating a fun and engaging atmosphere for the John B. Dey students. Each group included an icebreaker, a mini service-learning assignment related to their specific project, and a host organization overview. After VTFT students introduced what the students would be doing with their chosen organization, they were able to help their community through various engaging tasks.

Mercy Chefs, one of the chosen organizations for the event, is a disaster-relief organization that focuses on providing hot, sanitary meals to victims, volunteers and first responders in underserved communities

worldwide. The students who chose this organization were tasked with making spice packets which were then sent to those in need.

According to Mercy Chefs volunteer manager Molly MacDonald, the spice packets the students made will be going into their grocery boxes to be shipped out all over the country.

As their first Day of Service, the JBD students were excited, remaining energized and engaged throughout the event as they helped those in need in their community.

John B. Dey newspaper adviser Nicole Prater said the Day of Service was “a wonderful learning opportunity for our students to be able to take part of and to learn how to help others.”

With a variety of different choices and interests, the students were able to pick the organization they resonated with most.

Fifth grader Eva Cerza wanted to help the SPCA because she loves animals. She felt bad for animals that didn’t have homes or beds and wanted to make sure they felt loved, so she decided to make snuffle mats with the help of the host and senior VTFT leaders Joey Vastano and Lauren Fenty.

Fifth grade students Austin Abulencia, Layah Eichelberger and Carla Vernal decided to make spice packets with the help of Mercy Chefs and senior VTFT leaders Nicolle Gutierrez and Ava Hibbard.

“I want to help 500 people because I feel thankful for what I have and want others to feel thankful too,” Vernal said.

After completing their community service project, the students helped the VTFT students clean up and package all that was made for the community.

In total, three benches were made for Preston Homes, 100 lunch bags were created for Lasagna Love, 50 stress balls made for VB Counseling, $250 collected for Student Rebuild, 11 pounds of trash was picked up for Lynnhaven River Now, 20 snuffle mats given to the VBSPCA, 50 birthday bags were made for the Tidewater Foster Organization, six blankets were donated to the Samaritan House, and 80 diaper boxes with 100 diapers in each were given to The Greater Hampton Roads Diaper Bank.

Once the work was complete, VTFT students, John B. Dey fifth graders and teachers, and YVCHR directors gathered as one unit and took a group photo to commemorate the event for future generations.

“I hope the fifth graders learn[ed] how good it feels to help out the community and help those in need,” senior VTFT leader for Mercy Chef Aiden New said.

VTFT and YVCHR hope to include the John B. Dey Day of Service as an annual event, as well as a tradition for both schools, where high schoolers can continue to teach rising sixth graders the importance of helping out those in need within their community.

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About the Contributor
Samantha Radford
Samantha Radford, Editor-in-Chief
Junior Journalism III Student | Anchor Channel 4 Falcon News Historian and Social Media Manager Class of 2025

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