Every year, the English 11 and 12 students at Ansonia High School plan the Pay It Forward Picnic for fellow classmates that centers around their required reading material. The picnic, which has a $5 entry fee for each student, raises funds to be donated toward a non-profit or charity of the school’s choice each year. English teachers Casey Robison and Mary Lochtefeld try to find age-appropriate books with real-life, meaningful topics; Tuesdays With Morrie seemed to fit the bill for the 2016-2017 school year. The memoir, written by Mitch Albom, is about a dying man’s lessons and the importance of living life and giving back to the community. In the book, Morrie requires in-home hospice care, which is why the Tigers chose State of the Heart Care to be a recipient of the funds raised at the picnic.
“We know that State of the Heart serves so many local families, and we wanted to contribute to that wonderful cause,” English 9 and 11 teacher Casey Robison said. “Our students are always eager to pay it forward, and I think after State of the Heart came to our classes to speak about the services they offer to those in need, our students were even more eager to donate to such a great organization.”
This year, the picnic had a record turn out with 99% attendance and raised over $1,000 for State of the Heart Care. The English 11 and 12 students are required to contact local businesses for donations like food, drinks, plates, utensils and raffle prizes. The students are also responsible for planning the picnic’s activities as well as preparing the food in addition to reading Tuesdays With Morrie.
Asked what the students take away from the event, Robinson said “I think our goal as teachers is to help make our students aware of the world around them and of the importance of giving back to our community. With Morrie, because it is a memoir, I think students were able to realize the difference a single person or single action can have on others.”
The funds raised by Ansonia High School will go toward veteran care at State of the Heart.