Katie Bottom - North County High School
Katie Bottom is a senior at North County High School who has been involved in service for many years. Her earliest memory of service was in seventh grade. She remembers going into Baltimore area shelters and delivering scarves, hats, and gloves. Kindness to others comes naturally to Katie.
Her work in Baltimore City was so impactful on her that she has now earned over 250 hours of distinguished service learning hours volunteering with Happy Helpers for the Homeless. Bobbi Coffman of Happy Helpers shared that Katie arrives as morning breaks on Saturdays. She added, “Katie gives of her whole heart, works tirelessly, and meets the urgent needs of those who are suffering.”
Katie is also involved with other organizations in her community. She is part of her school’s Key Club, a high school service club that is sponsored by the Kiwanis Club. Katie is dedicated to service to her community.
Outside of service, Katie is a part of the STEM program, National Honors Society, and plays soccer for her school in the fall and track in the winter and spring. Next year Katie will attend college and possibly major in electrical engineering. Her first choice college is Georgia Institute of Technology.
When asked if she had anything else to share, Katie stated, “Getting involved in your community allows you to meet new people and is always uplifting with a positive environment.”
Congratulations to Katie on being selected as the October 2021 Service Learning Spotlight Student!
Mackenzie Ferrara - Glen Burnie High School
Mackenzie fell in love with serving her community the summer before her junior year. Her first experience volunteering was at Glendale Elementary School where she helped with the Backpack Program. She remembers filling the backpacks with food for students to take home over the weekend. She said she now volunteers whenever she is available. Her dedication to service is evident through her service completed in the AACPS Service Learning Portal. Mackenzie is currently has the highest number of hours in the county!
Mackenzie, a senior at Glen Burnie High School volunteers much of her time at Happy Helpers for the Homeless, a non-profit in Halethorpe, MD. She really enjoys making the teenagers boxes that are filled with food. She shared that her favorite part of serving is being able to put smiles on people’s faces. Mackenzie is truly committed to Happy Helpers’, with over 350 hours of service in the past 18 months. The coordinator of Happy Helpers’, Bobbi Coffman said, “She serves with us non-stop - arriving at the crack of dawn - staying until we are done at our Headquarters - then her parents take her out to directly deliver food baskets to two families that receive them every week.”
Last year, Mackenzie and some of her classmates founded a service club at Glen Burnie High School called the G.I.V.E Club. This club helps lower-income and homeless students at the high school who need necessities, like food and hygiene products. She is excited to grow the club this year.
Mackenzie would recommend that other students get involved in service to their community. She shared that service has been eye-opening for her. She added that seeing and hearing stories while volunteering at Happy Helpers has made her more grateful for all the opportunities and resources she has.
Outside of service, Mackenzie enjoys working, baking, and hanging out with her friends. As of today her plans for the next year is to continue to volunteer, graduate, and hopefully go to the University of Maryland and major in biology. In the future, she plans to go to medical school and then start her residency in dermatology. Mackenzie said she wants to be a dermatologist, “to give others confidence and I plan to use my hard earned money to better the community and help others”.
Congratulations to Mackenzie on being selected as the September Service Spotlight Student.
Purvaben Patel - Glen Burnie High School
Class of 2021 Student with Greatest Number of Hours in the Service Learning Portal
Our spotlight student for the month of June is also the senior who earned the highest number of hours in the service learning portal. Purvaben (Purva) Patel, a recent graduate of Glen Burnie High School, served over 100 hours within the past year and a half. Most of the hours she earned were with Happy Helpers for the Homeless, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to serving the homeless in Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County.
Purva learned about the Service Learning Portal at Glen Burnie High School and immediately wanted to get involved in serving her community. She saw the Happy Helpers for the Homeless opportunity and started volunteering there the following weekend. She remembers meeting Ms. Bobbi Coffman, the executive director, and helping her arrange food baskets and drinks for the people they were serving. Purva shared that working with Happy Helpers was the most fantastic experience of her life.
In addition to serving with Happy Helpers, Purva also serves at Hindu Temples and helps her neighbors with their children. For Purva, what matters is the smile she gets to see from the people and the happiness she hears in the words thank you from them.
Purva recommends that students invest some time in service to others. She stated that, “It can provide them with knowledge about what the world is outside their home, school and Dunkin Donuts/Starbucks.” She also said that other students will feel lucky they are not homeless. She felt lucky when she considered that she lives in a house, they live outside in open. She uses heaters/ACs, they have none. She added, “If students can't do something big, that’s totally fine and understandable, but they definitely should go to some organizations where they just need to spend some time serving.”
Outside of service to others, Purva enjoys cooking vegan dishes, doing yoga/meditation, and hanging around new and unexplored places. Next year she will attend Loyola University of Maryland, where she will major in Biology and Pre-Medicine. She is looking forward to living on campus and serving in the hospitals nearby. She hopes to continue her studies after Loyola by going to Medical School to become a gynecologist.
“I never want to stop myself from serving in the community.”
Victoria Ford - Old Mill High School
In February of 2020, Victoria Ford found herself with too many eggs! This is not a problem that many of us face, but as a chicken owner, she did. Something she always wanted to do was to help her community and Victoria was able to do just that. She contacted Susan Thomas of the Anne Arundel County Food Bank and from there a beautiful relationship has formed. In Victoria’s own words, “This was the start of something much greater.” She has now donated over one-hundred dozen farm fresh eggs to her community.
Victoria is in 10th grade at Old Mill High School. She has always been interested in serving her community, but didn’t know how until she was introduced to the AACPS learning portal during a community building lesson. When this came up she immediately registered and shared that it has been life changing! She takes great pride in serving her community and is looking forward to getting more involved. She is hard at work, converting lessons and putting together a website for Old Mill High Schools ESOL students.
Victoria’s service is not exclusive to the AACo Food Bank. Some of the service learning opportunities she has participated in include Happy Helpers for The Homeless and Books for International Goodwill. She shared that she has gained valuable experience from them, however, they are both valued for different reasons since they are serving different populations. Victoria said, “Happy Helpers for the Homeless was really cool since it was continuing my contribution of donating to the Anne Arundel County Food Bank and through there I met a few fabulous people including Ms. Bobbi! The second service opportunity included collecting books of all levels to send over to foreign countries. While it is not directly affecting my community I know that this will help so many who are less fortunate than us!”
In addition to service to her community and beyond, Victoria is currently involved in the Student Government Association of 2023, Animal Rescue Club, Sociedad Honoria Hispánica (Spanish Honor Society), Red Cross Club, Environmental Club, Key Club, IB Newsletter and is a newly accepted member into National Honor Society at Old Mill High School. She is always busy, but stated that she loves being involved so she can continue to grow not only in her service, but also in her community. She enjoys meeting new people and expanding her involvement within her community with brilliant ideas from her peers!
Victoria would highly recommend that people start involving themselves in service so they can get to know their community better and strengthen their community by solving problems that can greatly benefit everyone. She shared, “When I am serving my community a simple thank you from someone I am serving makes my day a hundred times better. My journey into service also helped me see the compassion I truly have for everyone I meet and that somehow even through these tough times you can serve as the light for somebody in need. With this being said, I truly hope you try getting involved in service!” She also hopes to share her love of service with her youth group by getting them involved.
Outside of her clubs and service opportunities Victoria can usually be found with her animals! From Pip, the male Pekin duck to Daisy Mae, the female potbelly pig, she has over twenty beloved pets! Her passion and love for animals has developed into a desire to pursue a career in Veterinary Medicine. They give her a sense of joy when she has finished a long day of school.
Congratulations to Victoria for being chosen as the May 2021 Service Learning Spotlight Student!
Cassidy Hruz - Southern High School
Cassidy Hruz has a special memory of serving with her grandfather when she was younger. Her grandfather was active in a local chapter of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic Fraternal Service organization. She recalls helping out with a Christmas celebration for the community. Perhaps this experience with her grandfather is what sparked her fire for service.
Cassidy is a 12th grader at Southern High School who continues to serve her community. As a member of her school’s National Honor Society, Cassidy learned about the AACPS Student Service Learning (SSL) Leadership Team. When she went to her first SSL Leadership Meeting she was introduced to the AACPS Service Learning Portal. Cassidy shared that the portal introduced her to so many new opportunities to serve.
Cassidy’s service is not exclusive to her community in south county. She coordinated a stuffed animal drive for Orphan Grain Train, which is located in Millersville, Maryland. She was able to collect ninety-two bags of stuffed animals, which were shipped to children in South Sudan. She has also volunteered with Bello Machre and Operation Gratitude. She shared that her favorite type of service is when she can create things, like the paracord bracelets she made for Operation Gratitude.
In addition to service to her community and beyond, Cassidy is involved in many of her school’s academic groups, including Rho Kappa, the Science National Honors Society, and the National Honors Society. She is also an AVID tutor, a peer ambassador, and a four year varsity softball player. One of her teachers, Mrs. Rogers shared, “Cassidy is an amazing AVID tutor and role model for our 9th grade AVID students at Southern High School! Cassidy leads Socratic Seminars, shares college application experiences, and is amazingly patient and kind with her classmates.”
Cassidy said she would recommend students involve themselves in service because it can introduce you to new and exciting experiences that can change your life for the better, as well as many amazing new friends you get to meet along the way. These opportunities can expose you to new hobbies you never thought you’d enjoy! She added, “Service has made me a happier person overall; I enjoy what I do!”
Outside of service, her hobbies include baking, gardening, working out, snowboarding, and even relaxing and watching some TV. As of today, she plans to attend college, either Villanova’s Honors college or the University of Maryland at College Park. She hopes to attend law school and become a lawyer, but is not sure which type yet!
Congratulations to Cassidy for being chosen as the April 2021 Service Learning Spotlight Student!
Bradley Porter - Annapolis High School
Bradley Porter’s family has been active in service for as long as he can remember. He recalls his mom volunteering in his community when he was young and he stated he was right out there with her, helping her set up for events. He recalls taking part in the Backpack Buddies program and volunteering at local homeless shelters.
Bradley is a 10th grader at Annapolis High School who continues to serve his community. As an International Baccalaureate (IB) student, Bradley has to complete a project. Bradley combined his love of fishing and desire to help veterans into his IB Personal Project that also connects to his Signature Change Engineering 1 Class. Bradley is designing fishing lures and then selling them locally. All of his profits will be donated to the National VA for Homeless Veterans. Becky Hogan, Signature Facilitator at Annapolis shared that he had the opportunity to present his project to the Signature Integrated Community Stakeholders Team (ICST) and the team members were all very impressed. They offered up great suggestions as to how to market his lures and reach a larger audience. Bradley's already reached $150 in sales and has pledged to not stop until he reaches his goal of $500.
In addition to a love of service, Bradley is involved in extracurricular activities. Last year he was part of the Red Cross Club and the One Love Club. He also is an athlete who competes in indoor track, outdoor track, and cross country. He also enjoys fishing in his personal time and teaches younger children the love of fishing as a first mate on a fishing charter.
In the future, Bradley would like to expand his “Hooks for Homeless Heroes” project. He plans on creating a website for others to learn more about his service in an effort to raise more money for the VA.
Bradley would recommend that other AACPS students get involved with service. He shared, “When performing acts of service it's like a reward to not only those being helped, but to yourself, you allow yourself to step into a new reality; that focuses on one goal. Helping those in need.” In the words of his advisor, Mrs. Hogan, “Bradley is a Change Engineer!”
Congratulations to Bradley for being the March 2021 Service Learning Spotlight Student!
Arusa Malik - South River High School
Arusa Malik is a junior at South River High School. Her first memory of serving was with her local mosque in middle school. She and her sister attended a camp that had a focus on volunteer work. She recalls making meal bags that were sent to a local homeless shelter for distribution. Her passion for service was ignited though through her time volunteering with Arlington Echo this past summer. She served with Ms. Sheen Goldberg as a land steward where she helped restore aquatic wildlife, remediate plants, and ensure that no invasive species grew too large. When the summer ended she still wanted to find more ways to get involved, so she signed up for the AACPS Service Learning Portal, which provides students with options for various opportunities to serve.
The list of organizations that Arusa supports is extensive. Through the Service Learning Portal, she has been introduced to Bello Machre, Ronald McDonald House, Operation Gratitude, and NASA Goddard Environmental Task Force. With some of her classmates, she co-founded an organization called Backpacks for Baltimore. They collect school supplies that they put in backpacks for low-income students in Baltimore City. Her generous heart has touched the lives of so many. Arusa shared that some of her favorite causes include, “equity and social justice in Anne Arundel County, equal access to education, and environmental volunteering.” She is able to support these causes through her involvement as the Chairwoman of the County Executive's Youth Advisory Council.
Not only is Arusa involved in serving her community, she is also a leader in many extra curricular groups. She is on the Service Learning Leadership Team, the Vice President of her school’s SGA, outreach coordinator of the Chesapeake Regional Association of Student Councils (CRASC), community liaison for Let’s Talk Justice, treasurer of the Red Cross Club, webmaster of the Key Club, and a chemistry tutor for the Chemathon. She is also a member of the Envirothon Club, National Honor Society, National Math Honor Society, National Science Honor Society, Black Lives Matter Club, Superintendent’s Advisory Committee, Principal’s Advisory Committee, and on the tennis team.
Everything that Arusa does is done with joy, a smile, and commitment. Her CRASC advisor, Mrs. Stacy Pellegrin said, “Arusa's kindness, service, and positivity make her the perfect ambassador. She makes students want to get involved!” When asked to share a few words about Arusa, her teacher, Ms. Shaila Kulkarni stated, “Arusa represents the future - she is an activist, she is an intellectual, she is an empath, she is a seeker, she is a dreamer, and she encapsulates everything that AACPS would want to represent the student body of our school system. I am lucky to have her as a student in my Calculus class and as an officer for the club I advise.”
When she isn’t serving, Arusa enjoys travelling with her family. She loves exploring other cultures and enjoys the thrill of learning new things. She even once stated that she would prefer going to a museum over an amusement park. The knowledge that she has gained through her experiences have truly given her a wonderful perspective on life and allows her to give back to her community.
When asked if she had anything else to share, Arusa stated, “Service is truly one of those things where “a little goes a long way”. We may not even know it, but opening the door for someone else or exchanging a smile can make a lasting difference. The world is full of hardships and impediments. We never know what others are truly going through. Taking a little bit of time out of your day to do something for the amelioration of the people around you makes you a more empathetic person.”
Congratulations to Arusa for being selected as the February 2021 Service Learning Spotlight Student!
Corynn Green - Crofton High School
Corynn Green is a sophomore at Crofton High School who has been involved in service for many years. She has wonderful memories of serving with the Girl Scouts. Her favorite memory was when she helped with food drives and at the local food bank, where she spent hours handing out food, cleaning up, and doing the dishes.
Corynn is also involved with other organizations in her community. She has volunteered at Sarah's House, SPCA, her church, Harvest for the Hungry, Winter Relief, my local Library, Boy Scouts, and at Nursing Homes. Her favorite things to do while serving depends on where she is, but mostly she really enjoys talking and interacting with people, which enables her to hear all of the stories and experiences about their lives.
Corynn is dedicated to service to her community. She is a leader in the Crofton High School Service Club and the Best Buddies Program at her high school. Erin Few, the sponsor of those clubs shared that, “Corynn truly exhibits Crofton Cardinals “CARDS” values of “diversity” and “service.” In her short time at Crofton High, she has already impacted the Crofton community in immeasurable ways.” As a result of her dedication, Corynn secured a grant from the Kindness Grows Here organization that will support her plan to produce Kindness Read-Alouds to be ‘gifted’ to Nantucket Elementary School. Her hope is to teach the value of kindness to students year-after-year. Mrs. Few added, “Corynn is a friendly, out-going advocate for inclusion, and makes all of her classmates feel welcome and valued with her winning smile and kind heart.”
Corynn’s plan, going into her junior year, includes continuing in the Project Lead the Way, a STEM pathway at Crofton High School, and expanding her academic workload by taking honors and AP classes. As for her future, Corynn shared that she does not have it all planned out yet, but she hopes to major in Nanotech Engineering at Auburn University. In line with her service minded spirit, Corynn would like to learn and use nanotechnology to help and make a positive difference for people.
Outside of service, Corynn is a lacrosse goalie for her club lacrosse team. She also plays field hockey for her high school club team. She also enjoys hanging out with friends, going on adventures, listening to music, and taking pictures of sunsets.
When asked if she had anything else to share, Corynn stated, “I recommend students get involved in service because I absolutely believe it is one of the most rewarding things I do. It makes a difference in other people’s lives and allows you to see and experience lives which are different from your own. Also, you expand your horizons through new encounters, ideas, and connection, which provides a feeling of accomplishment. This is an incredible feeling, even with all of the negativity lately regarding living with the pandemic.”
Congratulations to Corynn on being selected as the January 2021 Service Learning Spotlight Student!
Tyler Cushing - Severna Park High School
The first service opportunity Tyler Cushing, a senior at Severna Park High School, can remember occurred with his middle school National Junior Honor Society. To apply, he had to complete 25+ hours of community service.He completed those hours at a local Thrift Store in Fort Benning, Georgia and quickly learned what serving his community meant to others and how much service can help create a positive change.
More recently, Tyler got involved in service through the Key Club, which is sponsored by the Kiwanis Club. In the fall of his junior year, his friends shared that the Key Club was dedicated to serving the community. He knew he wanted to be a part of that. Soon, Tyler was participating and contributing to a purpose that was bigger than himself. Tyler shared, “The Key Club opened up many opportunities to get involved and to appreciate the community around me.”
This year, Tyler is the committee leader for the Ronald McDonald House in Maryland for the SPHS Key Club. Paige Chang, the Key Club advisor shared that, “Tyler did an amazing job spearheading our first Key Club project of the year. With very little time and notice, he established communication with the Ronald McDonald House in Baltimore, set up a virtual "letters of encouragement" project for our first general meeting, put all the letters together, printed them and sent them to RM House to share with their guests.” The letters certainly brought some much needed joy to the families who were staying at the Ronald McDonald House.
Not only is Tyler driven to serve his community, but he also plans to continue to serve his community and country by joining the United States Army, either through the United States Military Academy at West Point, or with a ROTC Scholarship at another college. He feels, “As an American, I truly believe that every citizen, in some form and at some time, should serve his or her country and community to encourage positive change in our nation.”
When Tyler is not serving, he enjoys working, exercising, watching movies, and enjoying time with his friends and family. He is also a member of the National Honor Society and the track and cross country teams.
Tyler recommends that other students involve themselves in service because of the change individuals can bring to the community. He said, “Maybe all that others need are happiness and knowing that others support them in their lives. By serving others, you will get the best feeling knowing that you’ve contributed to the positivity of the community.”
Congratulations to Tyler on being selected as the December Service Learning Spotlight Student!
Kelly Hoang - Chesapeake High School
Kelly Hoang is a senior at Chesapeake High School who got involved in service through the Key Club, which is sponsored by the Kiwanis Club. She recalls that she joined the club as a freshman through the encouragement of a friend. Right away she knew that Key Club was the right fit for her. Her goal of increasing her involvement with the community would be met through her participation in the club. The first service opportunity she can remember was the Kiwanis Apple Sale at the Severna Park Community Center. Her favorite part of the event was seeing many smiling faces and the wonderful conversations she had with the people there. In her words, “It made me want to serve the community even more.”
Kelly is also involved with other organizations in her community. She has volunteered with the Red Cross, Happy Helpers for the Homeless, Severna Park Rotary Club, Girl Scouts of America, and Yuda Bands. She shared that her favorite service projects are ones that help the environment. She truly has a heart for the bay.
Not only is Kelly involved in serving her community, she also has been in the Color Guard, Student Government Association, Math Club, National Honor Society and the Spanish Honor Society. Her passion for service and involvement is evident by the participation in extra-curriculars. Additionally, she enjoys singing, art, photography, and knitting.
Following graduation, Kelly plans on attending a four-year college where she will pursue her interest in mathematics. She also plans on spreading the awareness about the impact of service and volunteering to others. Some of the things she will share to encourage others to serve is that it is truly refreshing and can make the person serving feel happy. In addition she will let them know that it is a great way to meet new people.
When asked if she had anything else to share, Kelly stated, “I highly recommend other students to join Key Club, which is a student-led organization that has helped me develop my leadership skills through community service and teamwork.”
Congratulations to Kelly on being selected as the November Service Learning Spotlight Student!
Ryan O'Connor - Arundel High School
Ryan O’Connor is a senior at Arundel High School. Her family has been serving the community for as long as she can remember. Some of the organizations she remembers serving with her family include her church community, various non-profits, and st events with Girl Scouts. When asked about her earliest memory of a service project, she shared that when she was in fifth grade, she and her sister planned a “play day” for the neighborhood children. They planned creative and play activities for the children. As they were planning they decided that they wanted to raise money, so they charged a small fee and donated all of the money to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. For her, that was only the beginning of her journey in service.
Ryan is a true servant leader at Arundel High School, where she serves as the president of the Interact Club, which is the Rotary sponsored service club for young people. Through her involvement with Interact, she learned about Global Citizenship and got involved with Kenya Connect, a non-profit organization with the mission of empowering and engaging teachers and students in rural Kenya to succeed in the 21st century. As the president of Interact and with help from club members and teachers, she would initiated, planned, and executed an event called the Kenya Cup, a soccer tournament between teams of high school students sponsored by teachers. Ryan excitedly reported, “It was all “fun and games,” but the real “trophy” was involving both local and global communities working for a cause.”
Not only is Ryan involved in Interact, but she also is involved with the Best Buddies Program, AACPS Service Learning Leadership Team, National Honor Society, and the Math, Social Studies, Spanish, and Science National Honor Societies. Outside of school, Ryan enjoys working out, especially using the Peloton and Pure Barre methods. She also loves travelling with her family and spending time with her puppy.
Following graduation, Ryan plans to attend a 4 year college and major in Kinesiology or Psychology with hopes of continuing her education to gain a doctorate in Occupational Therapy. While in college, she wants to continue to be very involved in service to the community. When asked what she would tell her peers about serving she said, “Service is definitely something that all students, actually all individuals, should be involved in. It gives you a sense of purpose, that is followed by an intrinsic feeling or reward knowing that you made a positive impact or difference in the lives of others in some way.”
Beckett Hummer - Meade High School
Beckett Hummer’s earliest memories of service are from a preschool experience. Her mom was part of a group who took the preschool students to a local retirement home. There the preschoolers took time getting to know some of the residents and creating friendships that were cross-generational. She and her family have been active in service for as long as she can remember.
Beckett is a 10th grader at Meade High School who continues to serve her community. During the pandemic, Beckett saw the need for food for people who could not afford it due to the quarantine. She and her family took action by collecting food and creating weekend food bags they gave out at two local elementary schools near her home. They did this over 15 weeks and gave out over 1,000 bags of food. Other service opportunities she has been involved with include Wreaths Across America, Operation Christmas Child, Bello Machre, Annapolis Soccer Club, Creating Communities, and Gigi’s Playhouse.
In addition to a love of service, Beckett enjoys playing soccer, reading, watching movies, and taking care of her plants. She also likes to stay in touch with her family and friends by writing letters. She commented, “The current state of the world has impacted some of my hobbies, such as traveling, but I still get to do a lot of the things I enjoy.” This comment is evident of the positive attitude that Beckett displays in her everyday life.
Beckett hopes to continue helping her community as much as possible and staying involved in the AACPS Service Learning Portal, as well as staying in CRASC. She is also working on her IB Personal Project, which will take a lot of time but her hope is that it will have a positive impact on her community and make a difference on a bigger scale. In the future, she hopes to have a career in politics or government so she can continue to make a difference in the world.
Beckett would recommend that other students get involved with service in AACPS because everyone can make a difference by doing the smallest things. Spending less than an hour a week can make a big difference in your community and make a positive impact. Beckett added, “I know personally I felt like I was making a difference and really seeing the impact of my service, and that made it worth it. Helping make a change in your community is one of the most important things you can do, and by doing service, it makes it easy.”