Renewal Team adds 15,000 students
School competition has tremendous results
For release: Nov. 27, 2007
Some 15,000 students throughout Northwest Louisiana joined the Renewal Team at Shreveport-Bossier Community Renewal this fall and committed themselves to make caring a daily priority in their lives.
"Teenagers get a bad reputation as not caring or having respect. This shows we do care and we want to make a difference," said Meghan Mussehl, a senior at Byrd High School.
"When students are involved in the community it roots them and gives them an opportunity to grow and take that into life as adults."
Middle schools and high schools in Caddo and Bossier parishes competed to sign up the most students or the highest percentage of students for the Renewal Team and the winning schools received certificates and a $500 award provided by a local business to be used toward a service project.
The Renewal Team is led by SBCR's Tom Watts and Randall Austin with the purpose of connecting caring people and raising the visibility of caring. More than 37,000 youth and adults have now joined the Renewal Team and many have moved on to deeper levels of involvement, serving as volunteers and providing financial support.
Wonderfully successful with a high percentage of students enrolling at many schools, the effort was led by a combination of school administrators, teachers and students themselves. The impact has been immediate, with some schools reporting cleaner campuses as a direct result of the "We Care" campaign.
"I was impressed with the students. We did not make them sign up - we just encouraged them. They had lots of ideas about how to care and we put those ideas on posters around the school," said Trish Bratlie, an eighth-grade math teacher at Caddo Middle Magnet. The ideas ranged from caring for a neighbor's dog to buying toys for needy children.
"We want students to be aware that giving is important for the community and for them also. We need to pay it forward."
Jack Brown, an eighth-grade student at Middle Magnet, volunteers at his church.
"I don't like to see people struggle because I believe all men are created equal and that's how it should be. I think it's important to be a caring person so you will always be able to help someone else out. Everyone needs something extra," he said.
Members of the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs hockey team participated in several of the presentations to the winning schools.
"This shows you can change things, you can improve things. There is a way to make a dramatic difference in a neighborhood," Mudbugs General Manager Steve Cherwonak said of Community Renewal.
"I can't wait to see this in five or 10 years. This is so refreshing."
KSLA sports anchor Bob Griffin also attended the school presentations, thanking students for coming together as a caring team and encouraging them to help others throughout the year.
"These kids are winners and that's important. I tell them they will learn you have to care for other people to really be happy," he said. "When I covered sports I learned there was nothing like a winning team. And this is a big winning team."
The follow high schools and middle schools won the 2007 contest:
Plain Dealing High School - highest percentage (91%)
Parkway High School - total number (518)
Haughton Middle School - highest percentage (85%)
Haughton Middle School - total number (807)
North Caddo High School - highest percentage (89%)
Byrd High School - total number (1,358)
Turner Middle School - highest percentage (82%)
Caddo Middle Magnet - total number (836)
Shreveport-Bossier Community Renewal is a nonprofit effort to restore safe and healthy communities through caring relationships. Founded in 1994, SBCR reaches at-risk youth through Friendship Houses built in impoverished neighborhoods, strengthens education through the Adult Renewal Academy, partners with The Fuller Center for Housing and connects caring partners who turn their neighborhoods into safe havens of friendship and support.
Contact: David Westerfield, director of communications