Members of Princeton High School’s National Honor Society and the middle school’s Leo Club make it a goal to make the world they live in a better place.
On Tuesday, Oct. 8 the students were inspired further into action to impact Princeton in a positive way.
The two groups from Princeton were invited guests for We Day, a daylong celebration at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, organized through the Free the Children and the We Act Program to inspire volunteerism.
Thirty middle school students and 20 NHS members joined 18,000 students from across the state for the five-hour event that included about 35 performers and speakers. You couldn’t buy a ticket to We Day; tickets to this event had to be earned through volunteer hours and service work.
The NHS students earned their admission through volunteer work on their annual blood drives and through highway cleanups, said NHS member Libby Morton. The Leo Club earned their admission through a number of local service projects.
One of the highlights was hearing from Spencer West, a Free the Children ambassador, author and double amputee who climbed Kilimanjaro on his hands and in his wheelchair in 2012.
“It was real inspirational,” said NHS member Emily Cassidy. “It’s amazing to hear what people have been through and how strong they are,” Cassidy said.
If West can climb a mountain, we should be able to clear our hurdles, she said.
Winter Manisto-Saari was impressed by the wide range of people who addressed the youth, ranging from Mia Farrow to singing sensations The Jonas Brothers to pop star Carly Rae Jepson.
According to middle school teacher Sharon Arens, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. III shared his message of “Freedom.” The Kenyan boy’s choir, which also sang at President Obama’s inauguration, performed. Four of the Minnesota Vikings, along with Jack Jablonski, energized the crowd
NHS member Hannah Wheeler was impressed by an unlikely guest, Queen Noor of Jordan, an American woman who went on to marry King Hussein.
“She said she grew up just like us,” Wheeler said.
Through her message, Queen Noor told the youth that it’s the little things that we do in life that matter, Wheeler said.
“She also said we are never too young to make a difference,” she said.
Morton said she left We Day excited for the future.
Wheeler said she and her fellow NHS members were inspired to take on future projects.
One coming up soon is a “We Scare Hunger” campaign where NHS members will go trick-or-treating on Halloween, but instead of asking for candy, they will ask for a food donation for the local food shelf.
During We Day festivities, the NHS students were captivated and while overwhelmed, they were inspired, said Traci Schellinger, the NHS adviser. Whether they become an engineer, a diesel mechanic, or an author – it doesn’t matter. What matters is they know they have the power to make a difference in the world, Schellinger said.
On the bus ride home, the middle school students were already planning their next project, according to middle school teacher Shannon Arens, who took the Leo Club members to St. Paul. They set a goal of collecting 100 winter coats for families in local communities.