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Posted On: Wednesday, March 20, 2019

BY BRYCE PHILLIPS, Elizabethton Star

Five Elizabethton High School students have a goal.

And that goal is to send a local young boy to Disney World through the Make a Wish Foundation.

Alexis Shelton, Caleb Miller, Makayla Coad, Aiden Taylor, and McKenzie Puckett are all apart of Elizabethton High teacher Dustin Hensley’s Community Improvement class and the fundraiser is a project for Hensley’s class.

The group, which is led by Shelton, are selling T-shirts as well as planning an upcoming Spring Formal as a way to raise money for their cause.

Shelton said that the young boy is a family friend and that the fundraiser means a lot to her.

“I am really close to his older sister,” said Shelton. “We went to the same elementary school, and we just reconnected through my mom. I am just really close to that family.”

The project and the group have hit some hurdles. Originally, the group wanted to host a basketball tournament featuring local high school teams and use the proceeds to go towards the Make a Wish. Due to TSSAA regulations, however, the ball game fell through. Shelton said that the group is definitely learning a lot through trying to reach their goal.

“I have learned that people don’t take teenagers all that seriously,” said Shelton. “They should give us a break. Because of nine times out of ten, we are more responsible than they give us credit for. For us to be trying to do something like this, should give us some credibility. They shouldn’t look down on us just because an adult isn’t involved.”

Even though there have been bumps in the road, the group is pushing forward in meeting their goal of sending the young boy to Disney.

“We are learning perseverance and to keep moving forward,” said Shelton. “When the basketball tournament fell through, we just kept going. We just immediately bounced back with a new idea.”

The new idea is to host a spring formal which could happen towards the middle of May, said Shelton.

“Our principal is cool with it and people are showing interest in it,” she said. “The student body was devastated when the winter formal fell through. There isn’t any reason we couldn’t have a nice turnout and raise some money for him.”

Hensley, who has been teaching the Community Improvement class for two years now, said that projects like the ones his students are trying to tackle are great teaching tools.

“They are learning things that they would never realize they need to learn,” said Hensley. “In doing these projects and helping their community, they are getting to see what being a real citizen means.”

Hensley went on to say that the group has put a lot of work into their project.

“They have been reaching out to as many community members as possible to get funding,” said Hensley. “They have been all over the school. They have worked with the band. They have looked at as many different areas as possible. They have canvassed the community for donors. Every day, they are out knocking on doors or doing something to reach their goal.”

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