The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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April 19, 2014

Schools rise to leadership challenge

JOHNSTOWN — Forest Hills and Cambria Heights high school students put the spirit of healthy competition toward a good cause and picked up some lessons in leadership along the way.

Forest Hills representatives to The Tribune-Democrat Youth Leadership Seminar in October took up the school’s annual blood drive to fulfill the seminar’s community service project requirement.

“We latched onto the blood drive because those kids were all involved in that as well,” said Joe Gironda, athletic director. “Obviously, it’s good for the school district and it’s good for the kids.”

To add incentive, the blood drive was framed as part of the “EverPower Challenge.” It was sponsored in part by EverPower Wind Holdings and even came with its own “Wind Bowl” trophy.

A running tally is being kept and, whenever Forest Hills athletes face off against Cambria Heights opponents on the playing field or through humanitarian efforts, the trophy travels to the victor.

Although Cambria Heights trumped Forest Hills in the March 18 blood drive, the Rangers held a 9-5 lead in the EverPower Challenge going into the event, Gironda said.

Junior Kevin Wilson, a student council member who got his first taste of volunteer work during the project, said there’s more to it than the score.

“Taking just a tiny bit of your own time can help save a lot of other people,” he said. “That little bit of blood you give can help save someone else’s life. It just makes you feel good that you could help them out.”

Kevin, who worked with other student council members to set up the blood drawing equipment and run food to donors, among other things, said he learned the value of preparation and why following a leader’s vision or plan keeps things on track.

“Definitely organization would be one (thing I learned.) Having everything set up beforehand makes things work a lot smoother,” he said. “(Designating duties) works a lot easier than having one person take all the load.”

Gironda said more drives are being planned and another EverPower Challenge event will take place near the end of the school year.

“It made me feel like I was helping other people,” Kevin said. “I feel like I’m privileged, and I can help others who aren’t as privileged as I am.”

Justin Dennis is a multimedia re­porter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at @justindennis.

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