By Kristin Schultz
They may be little fish in a big high school pond, but Niskayuna’s Class of 2020 aims to make a big splash.
From the moment the freshmen leadership group, including class officers and self-selected students, set foot in the door, they knew they wanted their four years to make a difference in both the school community and the community at large.
“We don’t want to be all talk and no action,” said Leo Claus. “We know we’re making a difference.”
One of the first public ways the class aims to make a difference is with Hope Phones.
On Tuesday, May 16, during polling hours for district voting — 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. — they will be collecting old cellphones to donate to San Francisco-based Hope Phones.
The phones will be sent to the organization and either refurbished for resale or safely recycled with proceeds going to fund medical volunteers working in impoverished and underserved areas around the world.
“About half the town votes on election day,” said Samhita Koduri. “We wanted to have this drive on a day that brings the community together.”
The class hopes to collect 50 cellphones, and the donated items can be in any condition. Hope Phones will accept phones that are just old, or not used anymore. They will also accept phones that are damaged, broken or have a cracked screen.
Personal information is erased prior to refurbishing or recycling the phones.
The freshman class doesn’t plan on stopping there. To date they have collected $2,000 mostly from parent donations. While the class is working toward paying for its prom, its focus is primarily outward into the community.
In addition to one-time efforts like Hope Phones, the class plans to give both to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as well as show generosity to school-affiliated people and families in need throughout their time at NHS.
“We wanted to change the vision from just funding the prom,” said Katy Aldous.
The class has hosted a Valentine’s Day chocolate sale to raise money for community causes and is already planning a movie night for next fall that may also include a food drive.
“We want to focus on community involvement,” said Aarushi Fernandez.
The students’ enthusiasm is fully supported by class adviser and social studies teacher Stephen Eichfeld.
“We meet every day,” said Eichfeld. “That’s 180 times per year. It’s in our DNA to do more with our time.”