Student leadership reaches for goalFriday, May 08, 2009 By Tyler Prochazka
The economy in freefall effects more than the investors on wall-street. It also is causing hardship for the Student Leadership organization. Student Leadership is an organization that creates a project that is supposed to help the Newton community. Each graduating class has its own student leadership group that is established during each class’ sophomore year. This year, the juniors have found themselves without the funding each class normally receives. About five years ago, the Newton Community Foundation (NCF) got $200,000 to support the Newton Leadership Program. The money was invested and the interest was to be used to fund skill-based leadership programs. With a falling stock market and lower interest rates, the money did not generate much interest and there were funding cuts. "All the past years had that money, but then it got taken from us," junior Jacob Skala said. "Now we are working hard to get the money." Without the normal funding, the juniors had to get creative. They came up with many different ideas to raise money such as a bake sale and a garage sale. As of now, they have jars for donations at several locations in Newton like Wal-Mart and at gas stations. So far the jars have brought in over $250 in donations. The juniors also applied for a $500 grant from the NCF, who they normally get funding. The difference is hey had to compete with other groups in the community for this money. They ultimately they got the grant. The grant is to be used to replace the swings at the playground at the Community Playschool, which is a preschool by Bethel College that is free or low cost for disadvantaged kids. However, that grant is not guaranteed for next year. "The junior class wrote an application this year and got funding. Next year’s class might not be as fortunate," district special education director and Student Leadership adviser Sherri Buss said. Despite raising over $800, the junior student leaders are still looking to raise more money. They are the first class to have to raise all of their money entirely on their own. "It stinks," Buss said. "The intent of the program was never to have students fundraise." Student Leadership is directly tied to the stock market. If it is doing well, it is likely that NCF is getting the money it needs. For this reason, it is possible that Student Leadership could get its normal funding back if the economy turns around. Regardless of all the money problems, Skala said it is still more than worth it. "Student leadership teaches you to be a better community leader. It also teaches you better planning and execution," Skala said, "and it looks really good on a resume."