During this year that brings closure to the seniors’ time at Cornerstone, each of them stepped out to invest in others. They considered their God-given gifts, talents, interests, and passions as they explored a final in-depth service project - the Senior Legacy Project.
Understanding the Culture
In the course Understanding the Culture, seniors learn to complete their legacy projects with a deeper purpose. The course content is rich, the discussions are fruitful, and relationships are strengthened, both with our Lord and with each other. Students learn the intrinsic worth of all people at any stage of life, simply because we are made in God's image and not because of anything we have the potential to do or become.
For secondary teacher Laura Nguyen, teaching Understanding the Culture this year came as an unexpected opportunity to pour into the senior class more than the prime factorizations, theorems, postulates, equations, interviewing strategies, or test prep skills she typically shares with so many of them throughout the years.
“Each of the members of the class of 2020 is truly dear to me,” said Nguyen. “Jokingly, I have shared with my husband that I know why God does not give one mom 53 children because I truly experience their joy, sadness, highs, and lows as though they are each my own. That said, I would not trade my share in Romans 12:15, ‘Rejoic[ing] with those who rejoice, and weep[ing] with those who weep.’ Having even these short moments together in secondary is a treasure I do not take for granted.”
Making a Difference in the Lives of Others
The Senior Legacy Project is not just about filling a community service hours requirement but thinking deeply about making an ongoing difference in the lives of others. While each project is related in some way to the issues that are discussed in Understanding the Culture, they vary tremendously from student to student.
Components of each project include community service focused on a social impact cause, a written research paper and reflection, and an adjudicated oral presentation.
This spring, while the seniors should have been wrapping up their projects, each one faced the additional unexpected challenge of how to finish the work they had started back in the fall.
A Change in Plans
Senior Adam Whitney’s project was initially a charity 5k and 1-mile event for Loving Arms Cancer Outreach to be held in April at Allatoona Creek Park. Due to COVID-19, he made the decision to change the in-person race to a virtual one, where participants can run on their own time, submit their times to a form, and receive medals if they have the fastest times.
“This allowed me to continue to follow guidelines of social distancing while still spreading cancer awareness and the importance of physical exercise,” Whitney said. “I ended up making just under $400 for this wonderful organization!”
Senior Faith Aldridge also experienced a change in her project to help the residents of an assisted living organization make blankets to be donated to a local homeless shelter. With the arrival of COVID-19, she was no longer able to continue as planned. As a solution, she decided to make the blankets herself and give them back to the residents with a little note as a reminder that they are not alone during this scary, unprecedented period of history.
“It is my hope that they see the love of Jesus through my actions and are given a glimmer of hope in these tumultuous times,” said Aldridge.
Senior Adriana Holbrook was building a food pantry for Oak Grove Elementary School because many of the families attending live in poverty. However, the children could no longer go to school due to the pandemic. Adriana has continued her senior project past the due date in order to help the families. She even contacted the Cornerstone staff and administration to see if they would be willing to donate items to a food drive for the families.
“I have collected over $400 worth of food for these families!” said Holbrook. “I am so grateful for each person who donated and could not have done this without them.”
Digital Judging and The Wonder of Technology
Precedents for judging the Senior Legacy Projects have been set for years. It has become a school tradition to invite community members to campus to meet the well-dressed seniors in person as they present their projects. However, the usual process was radically changed by COVID-19.
With wise leadership and quick adjustments, judges with direct ties to Cornerstone were re-selected and digital forms were created. Students took the changes in stride as they used their technology skills to make videos of themselves presenting their projects to an audience of family members at home. The videos were then shared with the judges, who evaluated the seniors and their projects from the comfort of their own homes.
“While there were a few glitches with the wonder of technology, the process went relatively smoothly,” said Nguyen.
The students and judges were flexible, resilient, and graceful. Unique ways to serve during a world-wide shutdown were discovered, and students, as well as all of the adults involved, learned that change, while scary, can be good.
While this school year finishes in a way none of us could have expected, we are honored to serve your family and pray that you, too, daily realize the return on inspiration of your Cornerstone experience, even if it looks different than originally planned.