GREENVILLE, S.C.- Students in the Connecting Arts Through Service Club at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities were honored in a Service Recognition Program for volunteering more than 700 hours in community service this school year. C.A.T.S. Club students worked with approximately 20 non-profit groups and organizations, including the Greenville County Library, Frazee Dream Center, Let There Be Mom, Mental Health America of Greenville County, Operation Gratitude, Salvation Army, Sterling Community Center, and others.
The C.A.T.S. Club was developed to provide opportunities for students to use their skills and knowledge in real-life situations while developing a sense of social awareness, responsibility and leadership. Students are encouraged to help identify social needs in the community and plan ways to address those needs. They have taken on projects and partnerships that address the environment, at-risk children, the elderly, homelessness, hunger, disaster relief and literacy.
“One of the longest standing partnerships is with the Sterling Community Center,” said Carol Baker, S.C. Governor’s School for the Arts outreach coordinator. “Each Wednesday, a group of K-5th grade students from the center traveled to the Governor’s School to spend time in a mentorship program called Rock Stars. They worked with our students on art projects, homework, and other enrichment activities designed to provide time for meaningful relationship building.”
“My time with Rock Stars was especially enriching to me,” said Kyle Tolbert, junior vocal student at the Governor’s School. “Projects like these have helped instill in me a different type of art-the art of giving. Just like I’m passionate about developing my art, I can use that passion to help a child read a book or teach them how to tie their shoes to help develop the mindset and growth of a child through volunteering.”
“We are so grateful for our partnership with the C.A.T.S. Club. Our students will forever remember their warm smiles and the time they took just to listen to them,” said Paulett Brooks from the Sterling Community Center.
Another mentorship program was developed with the Frazee Dream Center, where C.A.T.S. Club members worked with middle school girls on a year-long art project that is now displayed in the center. “Our girls are so proud of the beautiful artwork they created and grateful for the creative time they spent with the Governor’s School students,” said Kim Mogan, volunteer coordinator at the Frazee Dream Center.
During the school year, C.A.T.S. Club students also created book collection bins for the Greenville County Library that collected approximately 300 books for the Friends of the Library sale; they donated 100 pairs of socks to Mental Health America of Greenville; they raised $702.63 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Pennies Program; they adjudicated the Simpsonville Elementary PTA Art Contest “Reflections”; they helped promote Let There Be Mom’s “Dine Out For Mom” fundraising event; and provided volunteers for Kidsphere, working on craft projects with children attending Artisphere.
In December, C.A.T.S. Club students also participated in the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle fundraiser, ringing kettle bells in front of the Westin Poinsett Hotel in downtown Greenville.
“With the amount of money these students raised, we could provide shelter and food for 25 nights, we could give six kids a Christmas with gifts, or provide 230-250 meals to families,” said Betty Clement, development and volunteer coordinator. “They came out on one of the coldest days in December and ended up being one of the top 3 fundraising teams.”
The C.A.T.S. Club is led by Michele Colletti, S.C. Governor’s School for the Arts service learning coordinator. “Governor’s School students have very busy schedules. They may be in classes for eight or more hours a day. They’re rehearsing for performances outside of class time, and they have to keep up with high academic standards. So it takes a real commitment for these students to make the time to help others,” said Colletti. “We see students go well above their minimum required hours because they truly love it.”
“Serving with C.A.T.S. these past two years has been one of the most gratifying experiences of my life. I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true,” said Sarah Mims Yeargin, senior creative writing student at the Governor’s School. “I love the feeling of making an impact on the community and using my own experiences and opportunities to help build others up. I’m grateful to the Governor’s School for giving me the resources to do that, and to Mrs. Colletti for working so hard to make sure C.A.T.S. isn’t just something people can put on a resumé. It actually makes a difference.”
“There is no doubt that service learning is a valuable tool used to orient students in creating meaningful lives in an increasingly more complex world that is ever-changing,” stated Dr. Cedric Adderley, S.C. Governor’s School for the Arts president. “Through service learning, we’re not only developing groups of educators, but also groups of students who are passionate about the condition of others and about preserving the environment in which we live.”
“While it is part of the Governor’s School’s mission to serve as a resource to the teachers and students throughout South Carolina, these students have taken it upon themselves, with the help of our service learning programs, to give back to the community-our Greenville home and the state-that has awarded them the opportunity to pursue their artistic talents at our school,” said Adderley.
The South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities is a public, residential high school in Greenville that serves young artists from across the state.
About S.C. Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities
Located in Greenville, the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities (SCGSAH) cultivates young artists from across the state through pre-professional training in the areas of creative writing, dance, drama, music and visual arts. As a public, residential high school, serving juniors and seniors, students refine their talents in a master-apprentice community while receiving a nationally recognized academic education. Summer programs are available to rising 7th-12th grade students, and SCGSAH serves as a resource to all teachers and students in South Carolina, offering comprehensive outreach programs designed to bring together artists, educators, community organizations and schools. www.scgsah.org