BRANSON WEST — A group of Branson High School juniors have taken note that “Jesus came not to be served, but to serve.”
Speaking during a group presentation during an April 7 graduation banquet held at the Best Western Inn of Branson West: Natalie Lashley, Elizabeth Wertz, Josh Button, Alexis Torix, Raleigh Woods, Tyler Curry and Maggie Lemley related what they have learned about their community core values through the Legacy Youth Institute.
Using Jesus’ example as a role model, these and other area students aren’t going around looking for someone to wait on them hand and foot.
Instead, they are looking to lend a helping hand.
The Branson students plan to give 40 fellow students, who cannot afford senior pictures, the opportunity to have them taken. Through their faculty sponsor, Barbie Kolb, the students will make contact with these students and their families through the social work and school counseling offices.
Two Branson students, who are skilled at photography, will take the pictures. The photos will be printed and given to the senior students.
“Our hope is that by this simple act of kindness, we can touch these people’s lives,” Curry said.
Part of the purpose of the Legacy Youth Institute is to identify, empower and introduce young leaders to preserve and pass on the area’s legacy values, as well as develop civic engagement and community responsibility. Participants are encouraged to become servant leaders by discovering service opportunities to pass along principled stewardship to future generations.
Tess Rolf co-founded of the Legacy Youth Institute with her husband, Jory, as a spin-off from Ozark Mountain Legacy, a local organization devoted to championing area values of family, faith, flag, friends and future.
Rolf recalled a Champions of Friends Day event.
“Our goal is to introduce our students to a lot of different non-profit organizations in our community,” Rolf said.
According to Rolf, 15 different nonprofits were set up in the gym.
“It gave them great ideas. I know that’s the day where they get a lot of great ideas cause they see what other people are doing,” Rolf said.
Corbyn Snodgrass, a School of the Ozarks junior, related an impression made while talking to area nonprofit organizations during Champions of Friends Day.
“Something I remember from the nonprofit organization day is, what can we do as young people to help?” Snodgrass said. “They told us, we just need you to be our boots on the ground.”
“We will do our best to make a difference — that’s what every young person wants to do, is to make a difference,” Snodgrass said.
Galena juniors Caleb Hall, Emma Childers, Blake Batson,
Ashlee Greenway and Logan Sorrell, went to several non-profit organizations, yet were struggling to find an initiative, a required part of their Legacy Youth Institute participation.
“So, we decided, ‘what’s important to us?’” Greenway said. “Our mission became to send one of our (Galena) students to Camp Barnabus at no cost to them.”
Camp Barnabus is a Christian camp for kids and teens, ages 7 to 17, with life-threatening illnesses and disabilities located in Purdy.
The group chose a girl named Erica because they knew her family had tried to send her to Camp Barnabus but couldn’t. The teens are working on raising $750 for the camp fee and have a goal to send all special needs kids in Galena to Camp Barnabus. They have started a Facebook page called Camp Galena.
Childers said the most enjoyable part of the program was meeting people and learning how to be a better leader.
“Whenever I stepped up here, I wasn’t as nervous as I was before,” Childers said.
Forsyth juniors Whitney Haynie, Gracelyn Haile and Kendra Shull, talked about addressing issues in their community of youth running away from home.
They spoke to a nonprofit organization dealing with arranging temporary homes, and developed a vision of providing an emergency safe shelter for males and females, ages 10-17, or 18 if still enrolled in high school.
They are holding a penny drive May 2-6, during seventh hour in Forsyth schools.
“Our donation can help teens in our area,” Haynie said.
Reeds Spring juniors Malayna Bryan, Adam Probtsfeld, Sophia Greenwalt and Anna Van Haitsma are working to assist students who transfer into the school.
“One of the takeaways (from participating in the Legacy Youth Institute) was planning for school life because our futures are so important to everybody,” Bryan said.
They are tying into a program called Naviance, a college and career readiness platform that helps connect academic achievement to career goals.
“Reeds Spring traditionally has new students that transfer in,”Bryan said. “None have had access to this program before.
Hollister students April Guevara, Brandon Gandy, Wolfegang Redman and Lauren Plott, want to be able to enjoy movies as a community by showing films at the school.
“We’re really hoping that this becomes a success so that it can become a tradition at our school,” Guevara said.
Hurley High School juniors Olivia Tabor, Riley Johnson, Zachary Wisemiller, Carlson Isaac and Austin Chamberlain, also participated in the Legacy Youth Institute.
Rolf is enthusiastic about the initiatives started by each group of high school students inspired by the program.
“The faith side of our community is the nonprofits. They learned how, as young people, how they can make a difference,” Rolf said.