The Freshman Transition Network

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Last year Huntington High School (West Virginia) and Salem High School (Virginia) partnered in the Walk for Africa - One Life to Make a Difference. This walk was the service project for freshmen at both schools. We shared with each other through video conferencing and through a common One Life to Make a Difference ning. The freshmen raised over $12,000. By partnering with World Vision, we were able to donate the money to funds that were matched many times over by the U.S. government and corporations. The final impact of the walk by these ninth graders was over $100,000 for some of the world's most vulnerable children.

Teachers at both schools want to teach students that anyone can make a difference if they choose to serve. We want them to know that they don't have to wait to grow up to start making that difference. This year we have one more school in Arkansas and a few in West Virginia who have expressed interest in joining this project.

Teachers at Salem just set up a Facebook page called One Life to Make a Difference. We are in the very early stages of planning for this year's walk. This Facebook page will be used to share many of the ideas that we have for promoting the walk with our students. It will also give details on how we offer t-shirts with our One Life to Make a Difference logo emblazoned on the front. There is not much information there now, but it will be growing as the days go by.

This year will mark the fourth year of the walk at Salem HIgh School. We now have students from all classes wearing their t-shirts to school on a regular basis. We will be asking the upper classmen to support our walk this year by wearing their t-shirts on the day of our walk. We are looking forward to a day where most of the school will wear their One Life to Make a Difference t-shirts.

Our walk is traditionally held on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. We have the actual walk during the first three periods on that day. Most teachers of other classes understand that this day is not the best instructional day of the year and are more willing than usual to allow their students to join in this great service project.

Josh Ratliff at Huntington High School and I hope you will check out the Facebook page and consider adding your school to the list of schools participating in this worthwhile cause. Please contact us through this ning if you are interested. You can also contact me at If you are not ready to participate as a school but would like to support us, we would like to hear from you as well.



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Comment by Pamme Boutselis on August 31, 2010 at 3:55pm
And please don't hesitate to reach out if I may be of assistance in any way.
Comment by Pamme Boutselis on August 31, 2010 at 3:55pm
That's excellent!
Comment by Ray Moore on August 31, 2010 at 3:24pm
I will announce the new walk in the next couple of weeks as we announce it to our students. Then we will update with blog posts from students. I will also invite Huntington High School and any other schools who get involved to have students contribute updates from their schools as well.
Comment by Pamme Boutselis on August 31, 2010 at 2:24pm
I agree, Scott. The more we can do collectively to encourage kids to share what they are learning and in various types of ways, the more everyone benefits that is involved with this effort. On a personal level, I was very moved by how many people are involved in the Walk and the tremendous effort and caring that went into last year's event.

What a powerful way as well to build community within your schools.
Comment by Joshua Ratliff on August 30, 2010 at 6:23pm
This is such a wonderful lesson for our kids! I can't begin to explain the impact this had me and the students.
Comment by Scott Habeeb on August 27, 2010 at 9:01pm
Ray - I like Pamme's idea. This could be another way to get students' to take ownership - and tie technology into your English class. You could actually have a lesson/unit/activity about online writing - blogs/tweets/forum discussions/etc. Let's face it, this is a major form of communication and part of teaching students to write is to help them communicate better. They could study a blog or two and learn how to write within that forum - how to attract readers, how to still proofread v. type and submit, how to compose thoughts rather than just type whatever is on your mind, etc. Then some of the blogs they compose could actually be posted. I bet you they would love it and appreciate the fact that you brought lessons on writing techniques into the 21st Century. The blogs could be posted on TrackAhead and also on the FTN.
Comment by Pamme Boutselis on August 27, 2010 at 3:04pm
I applaud your combined efforts once again in making this a reality and making such a difference. As you know, Track Ahead wrote an article about your 2009 event, which is available onsite in our Community section.

It would be great to learn more about this event and have updates available on Track Ahead from one of the participants, whether it is an adult mentor or some of the students. I'd love to see a blog post announcing it and then weekly updates with what's happening. It would be a great community learning experience for all of us and one which we would feature and get the word out on regularly that may very well help your efforts that much more.

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