Students embrace the joy of holiday giving

Prairie Winter WishesWith Battle Ground Public Schools’ students and staff about to embark on winter break, the holiday spirit has definitely taken hold. Beyond the decking of halls and the full slate of holiday-themed concerts and performances, teachers, staff and students have been celebrating the holidays in the most appropriate way possible: by working together in the spirit of giving.

Every December, Battle Ground schools host a variety of activities and events that support and engage families and inspire students to focus on community.

All schools host food donation drives. Many turn the drives into classroom challenges that collect thousands of pounds of food to benefit the North County Community Food Bank in Battle Ground. As a separate event, teachers, staff, parents and students volunteer their time to take part in the Walk & Knock program, going door-to-door to collect food donations the first week of December to benefit the Clark County Food Bank. The food donation drives teach students of all ages about the importance of giving back and helping others.

District schools also host a variety of Giving Trees and family adoption programs to help provide gifts for those in need. Some of the Giving Trees, like the one at Prairie High School, are run and fulfilled entirely by staff members. Prairie’s Giving Tree program is administered by the school’s counseling department. Families are nominated by staff members, school counselors, and the district’s Family and Community Resource Center.

“The Giving Tree program at Prairie is a wonderful tradition,” said PHS school counselor Carol Davenport. “Prairie’s staff is extremely generous, and many of the items that are requested are purchased in just a matter of days after the tree goes up.”

Davenport said that many items are necessities that others might take for granted, like warm winter clothes or enough food to help make it through the winter break. Other items may seem more trivial, but are vital for helping students and their families simply get to have normal experiences. For example, the ability for a teenager to go to the movies with friends thanks to a donated movie theater gift certificate can go a long way toward helping those in need feel included.

Battle Ground High School also has their own Giving Tree program that is operated through a joint venture with the school’s iQ Credit Union branch. BGHS’ Giving Tree program is focused on providing Christmas gifts for children of all ages, and the entire campus community gets involved with the effort.

“It’s really cool to see high school kids come in excited to donate and help their community,” said business teacher Kevin Weeks, staff coordinator of BGHS’ Giving Tree program. “We try to be cognizant of people’s situations, and I always tell our students that a little bit of giving goes a long way. It’s a phenomenal thing to see different factions of the community working together, being generous, and doing what they can to give back.”

In addition to these impactful gift drives, there are also opportunities for students to give back in smaller ways. Take for example Prairie High School’s annual “Winter Wishes” tradition. Administered by the school’s ASB club, Winter Wishes is mostly a positivity campaign that allows students to fulfill small wishes for their classmates, teachers, and administrators. Students fill out slips of paper listing the name of the intended recipient of the wish, as well as what they would like that person to receive.

Most of the wishes involve a small treat, like a bag of chips or candy. Other students have wished for their classmates to get new pencils or pens so they can stop constantly borrowing them from their peers. And there are plenty of people who simply ask to get a high-five from an administrator like Principal Stephanie Watts.

“We try to make sure every student in the entire school is able to participate and receive something, even if it’s a very small gesture,” said Bella Millet, a senior and the ASB President. “It’s a great way for students to show support for one another, and they really take it to heart. It’s one of the most fun weeks of the year at Prairie, and it helps us build on our sense of community here. It’s a lot of hard work to coordinate all of this, but it’s well worth doing.”


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Brush Prairie, WA 98606

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