Generosity after-hours

Class project helps students benefit their community

Seventh+graders+Alfonso+Salvador%2C+Carson+Wicker+and+Avery+Sasser+compete+in+a+basketball+tournament.+The+tournament+was+for+a+fundraiser+by+eighth+graders+Ellison+Clark+and+Gavin+OBriens+20+Time+project.

Seventh graders Alfonso Salvador, Carson Wicker and Avery Sasser compete in a basketball tournament. The tournament was for a fundraiser by eighth graders Ellison Clark and Gavin O’Brien’s 20 Time project.

PEYTON KEITH, STAFF WRITTER

Since 2016, hundreds of Trinity Prep eighth grade students have worked on a project called the 20 Time Project where they dedicate 20% of their time to help themselves or someone else. Past projects include sporting events for the homeless, a dance program for people with Parkinson’s, and even an app to detect skin cancer before it’s too late.

“I’ve seen a lot of students that have reached back out and were excited for the opportunity to take the time,” Civics teacher, Tatiana McKinney-Stokes said. “[They mention] how it maybe helped them when they got to college and [to] figure out what it is they want to do.”

The 20 Time project was inspired by Google when the company’s employees would dedicate 20% of their time to doing something in order to help the company be more creative and innovative. Social science teacher Mike Hopkins, who used to teach Civics with McKinney-Stokes, thought the idea could be well adapted for eighth graders.

Some students, including current seniors and some alum, have continued to work on their projects well beyond the due date in their 8th-grade year.

“What I’ve seen in the last couple of years is that students have made an impact on the community,” McKinney-Stokes said. “But then also, it’s impacted maybe what they wanted to do in the future. And I can only really speak for my classes, but I know that I had a student do a Parkinson’s dance competition a while back, and it became an every year thing until she left the school.”

That student, Lauren Carlson, is now a senior at Lake Mary Prep, and she has continued her work on the project she started in 2016. Over the last few years, she has raised over $23,000 for the Michael J. Fox Parkinson’s Research Foundation.

“I partnered with dance organizations from around Central Florida, and they have come and performed,” Carlson said.

Carlson started her project after she was inspired by what her grandfather has gone through and what the money could do for the foundation. Her grandfather Charles DeBord, who passed away in October 2020, had Parkinson’s disease, a neurological disease that causes difficulties such as talking, walking, use of hands, and other basic movements.

“I do wish he was still alive, but this will be the first show that I’m doing with him not alive,” Carlson said.

Carlson expects to have another event coming later this year. The Michael J. Fox Research Foundation has honored Carlson for her significant contributions to the organization. Carlson hopes that anyone interested in her project will donate to the foundation.

Eighth graders Ellison Clark and Gavin O’Brien have been working on their 20 Time Project for the last four months and have been raising money for the Coalition of the Homeless, located in downtown Orlando. The two of them are raising money through various sports tournaments, which started in early March.

“We want to have a sport that is fun and is easy for everyone to play,” Clark said.

Clark and O’Brien have raised over $225 in just their first tournament, a set of Nuke’em matches. They also had another event on April 13 and 14. Clark had hosted a basketball tournament and finished raising her goal of $500 for the Coalition for the Homeless.

“I found out that $500 will provide 19 children with food, shelter and services,” Clark said. “So I decided that that would be our goal.”

Clark said that she charged a $5 entry fee to those who wanted to participate in the competition. For the basketball tournament, she wanted to add something new: a concession stand. Students who watched or played were able to buy some snacks and beverages during middle school lunchtime.

“I don’t think we want to have an entry fee for people to watch it,” Clark said. “But I think for our next [tournament], we’re going to consider a concession stand.”

Ellison is not positive about how many events she would want per year but will continue her project in the near future and raise even more money for different charities.

“Here at Trinity we’re all very fortunate to [attend] just such an amazing school and we have so many opportunities, and I would like to provide the opportunities to people who don’t [have] the same ones,” Clark said.