SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP — Ever since the combining of Harbor and Ashtabula high schools, a program known as Senior Leadership has given Lakeside seniors an opportunity to volunteer their time, gain valuable leadership skills, help the community and even leave school a little bit early. The program, pioneered by Lisa Raffa, is a seventh period class that is open to seniors who are dedicated and willing to work to better Lakeside and the community.
The purpose of the class is to encourage students to be leaders within Lakeside High School and Ashtabula. They volunteer at places such as the Ashtabula Senior Center, Lakeside Elementary Campus, G.O. Ministries, Catholic Charities, the YMCA of Ashtabula County, local daycares, restaurants and the headquarters of many other local organizations. By participating in Senior Leadership, students develop valuable skills that will prepare them to become leaders in Ashtabula County or wherever they venture as adults.
Students are encouraged to be creative and come up with their own unique ways to volunteer and help the community. For example, Chad McAfee and Shawn Gilbert decided to spend time two days each week aiding Sarah Severino, a kindergarten teacher at Ontario Primary.
“We help out the class by sharpening pencils, laminating and helping with crafts,” McAfee said. “We help the kids recognize the alphabet and numbers and teach them basic reading skills.”
During some days of the school week, they also volunteer at the Veterans of Foreign Wars by cleaning out the garages and washing the boats, cars and other vehicles in them.
The members of Senior Leadership also play an important role in planning school functions.
“(Senior) Leadership has organized most of the assemblies held by the school. We organized the Divine Nation ‘Stop Bullying’ concert, the boys’ volleyball tournament, and we organize the powderpuff football game every year,” McAfee said.