BERLIN — Students from Worcester Preparatory School (WPS) are working to provide funding for new technology at an underprivileged school through a project they are calling Students CAN: Change A Nation.
Inspired by the book Half of the Sky and having spent much of the last school year searching for a worthy project, WPS students Lucas Baier and Claire Stickler revealed that their first choice was actually to try to fund the construction of a new school in a third-world country. But with the economy still suffering a limp, Baier said that it was difficult to find the funding opportunities to move ahead with a new school.
“Initially, we started off trying to build a school but then the World Bank cut the funding that they used to match funding,” he said.
But the roughly half-dozen students that form CAN rebounded quickly, said Stickler, and decided that if they couldn’t build a new school they would drastically improve one that already exists. So the group partnered with World Assistance for Cambodia (WAC) with the intent of providing technology for their newly adopted school in that country: the St. Paul School of Hope.
“Our plan is to benefit the school with solar panels and computers and to give them Internet access,” said Stickler. “These kids have never really sent an email before.”
CAN is making sure to plan on the necessary infrastructure like solar panels for electricity, new computers and all of the support that will go with that because they hope this project will continue well after the first group of students has graduated from WPS. Baier and Stickler, as well as most of the other students in CAN, are rising seniors and will only have the next school year to work toward their ambitious benchmark before college.
“Our goal is $15,000 because we want to be able to deal with renewals because there are renewal funds for things like Internet access, so we want to have some room,” Stickler said.
Already, the group has raised about half of the $2,000 mark they have for just the installation of solar panels. The group recently held a bake sale, Cupcakes for Cambodia, at the OC Café in Ocean City and the students are planning similar events for the next school year. Baier said that CAN wants to be creative and informative with fundraisers, too, which is why they are considering doing a walk on the boards in Ocean City that would mimic how far the average student has to walk every day to and from the St. Paul School of Hope in Cambodia.
Local businesses are also being asked if they would like to partner with CAN to provide funding. Responses so far have been positive even if money has not been flying in the door.
“The community has been super open. A lot of people want to help but just can’t because of the economy,” said Baier. “I think the effort is definitely there. And if we don’t reach our goal I think we can just pass the torch on, but hopefully we can [reach $15,000].”
Whether they meet that goal, CAN will be actively recruiting next year. The group hopes to pick up younger members who will continue to fund St. Paul’s after the original members graduate. “One problem is that a lot of kids try to do this and they give [a school] money but then they leave them … so there’s no continuing connection with the rest of the world,” said Baier.
Next year CAN will also be reaching out to other area schools in an attempt to cross-promote funding with WAC, as well as recruiting within WPS.
“Once the fall starts, we’re really going to try to open it up and have an assembly in school to raise awareness,” said Stickler.
For more information, visit www.students-can.org