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Eagles soar in national program for efforts in prior years for food pantry and mental health awareness

PMG PHOTO: TERESA CARSON - Centennial High School students and other crew members finish their shift setting up the Food For Families pantry last year. Groups of Centennial High students will participate in a national leadership and service program this year called Lead4Change. Centennial High School has been selected to participate in a national student leadership program called Lead4Change. Groups of students will plan and execute service projects in the community.

"It's awesome," said Adriann Hardin, a business teacher and advisor to the Future Business Leaders of America.

The Lead4Change group also provides curriculum for participating schools and awards money for projects in a competition.

Centennial High students already have a stellar track record in community service and with the Lead4Cange program.

During the 2017-18 school year, Lead4Change awarded Centennial High second place and $5,000 for a project connected to its Food For Families mobile pantry. The converted school bus food pantry, parked in the high school's parking lot, serves about 100 families twice per month and all told, has helped more than 4,000 families or 18,000 people since it opened in 2015.

For the second-place 2017 project, students created hygiene packs for homeless students.

Another project that Centennial kids completed garnered them $500. Students worked to educate other students about mental health issues and the resources available to students who need them.

The Eagles passed out plastic bracelets and created posters and flyers that were hung around the school and in restroom stalls.

Hardin said students participating in the Lead4Change program gain skills in organization, communication, working in teams and more.

She said the students take a great deal of satisfaction in their Lead4Change projects and accomplishments.

"They feel proud about working together in community," she said.

"They get cool honor cords to wear at graduation. Some of these students would not get special cords otherwise."

She also said the projects are a boost to student resumes and bring them recognition.

Hardin expects different student groups to plan, carry out and submit five projects to Lead4Change for the 2019-20 school year.

The Lead4Change student leadership program was inspired eight years ago by co-founder and former CEO and chairman of Yum! Brands, David Novak. It was developed by the Foundation for Impact on Literacy and Learning in Newark, Del., and the Lift a Life Foundation in Louisville, Ky.

The Lead4Change curriculum has included more than 1.5 million students in schools and clubs across the country that are interested in addressing a specific needs locally or globally.

Lead4Change, formerly called Lead2Feed, is a free program which provides leadership lessons that aim for skill building and also work on literacy, social-emotional learning and project-based learning.

Students at Centennial and elsewhere apply these skills as they form teams, brainstorm and create programs to address a specific need on a local or global scale.

"The Lead4Change program teaches students how to lead and empowers them to take action in their own communities," said David Novak in a statement.

"I'm continually inspired by the big goals set by student teams, and how often they exceed their own expectations," he said.

More than 8,500 educators nationwide have used the lessons in their curriculum since the program's launch in 2012.

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