Forest Park High School students help their local communities through charity and service
Posted on 11/18/2019
Five Forest Park High students standing with the Lead4Change banner for the school

For the past two years, Forest Park High School’s Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) club has partnered with the Lead4Change organization to give students the opportunity to lead, create, and implement team projects designed to meet a need in their school, local, or global community.

This year, Forest Park High earned a certification from Lead4Change for their work in the community. Only 33 schools nationwide have met the certification requirements, which include completing and submitting projects according to challenge rules

Susan Gonzalez, family and consumer science teacher at Forest Park and FCCLA sponsor, explains, “By virtue of their mission, empowering student leadership to change the world, in small and big ways, has given me the latitude, as a teacher, to empower my students to fly their own leadership course.”

Gonzalez added, “In laying the foundation for FCCLA, it is my strong belief that diversity, relationships, caring, and feeling connected are vital keys to success. Young people need the opportunity to work in such a forum, which is how our motto, 'Helping Hands of Forest Park High School' began.”

One of the many areas of focus for the club is mentoring Kerrydale Elementary students. Student members go twice-a-month after school to mentor fifth-grade students about physical activities, healthy snacks, and mental well-being practices.

Gonzalez said, “This engagement has shown that both elementary and high school students can make a connection, work positively together, and have more in common than not. It gives students a sense of positive community and overall well-being.”

FCCLA members also help the Hilda Barg Homeless Shelter by serving meals once-a-month and assisting in their food pantry. Additionally, the club honors the Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue personnel who work at a nearby fire station and the Prince William County Police Department with an annual appreciation dinner. All of the activities and events are planned, organized, and executed by the FCCLA student members.

“We like how we are diverse in who we serve. America is a diverse county. We are a diverse group, so we want to reach out to different kinds of people,” said Bisma Sajjad, a senior and the club’s vice president of community affairs. “We like to appreciate those who serve our community daily.”

Senior Nabigha Tyriq, the club’s co-president, said of their experience that, “high school is a challenge for many students because that’s where we learn and grow as individuals; FCCLA is not a club but an enormous family where students put in their greatest efforts.We can all truthfully say that being a part of FCCLA has taught us about family, friends, how to communicate, discover our strengths and weaknesses and believe in ourselves.”

Gonzalez believes that Forest Park earned the Lead4Change award, “because of the work we have invested into our community and because we put forth an effort to make a difference.”