Vista Students Win $5,000 Grant


Nupoor Wadekar, Section Editor

At Vista del Lago High School, on Dec. 8, 2017, teams of students competed to win a $5000 grant. They have been preparing for the Community Outreach Project since the end of October. The grant will be used to fund their project idea that serves the community of Folsom.

The students belong to the Peer Leadership class, taught by Janice Johnson, and formed three groups to create projects for the competition. The only restrictions the group faced was that the project idea must have a specific cause, serve the communities in which they live, and use no more than $5000.

“For fourth block Peer Leadership, we would often go and volunteer with Mrs. Sutami’s Special Education class, and that’s where the inspiration for our art group came from,” said Julian Coriano, a student in Peer Leadership on a team that planned a special group in Folsom. “We’re doing a project which affects special needs kids, and they do art outside of the classroom. We thought, wouldn’t it be cool if kids could come outside of the classroom, but still be together and work on social skills, motor skills, and be outside of school,” he said.

The judges for the competition were community leaders and consists of Folsom City Council Representative Roger Gaylord, Intel Vice President Dave Aubin, SAFE Federal Credit Union Community and Advocacy Engagement Manager Amanda Merz, FCUSD Superintendent Dr. Sarah Koligian, and FCUSD school board member Sarah Aquino.

The judges were important community leaders, but Coriano was not intimidated by the panel. “Luckily, we have me [Coriano] and Marin [Perego], the broadcast speakers, so we are confident that we can sell the idea.”

“I have learnt a lot about teamwork, the negatives and the positives, but this class was definitely worth it–because I have learnt how to be a go-getter, I don’t sit around and wait for problems to be solved, and Mrs. Johnson really teaches us how to use our resources and become an adult in the real world,” said Coriano. A gap he said their team covered was, “Calling people that we didn’t know, or getting contacted by people–good for social skill building and communication.”

Netashia Debruyn, a member of the winning team, calls their community-helping product the ‘Donation Meters’. “We will be putting them around Folsom city, in places with high foot traffic, and we will be raising money for three non-profits. I don’t work the best in groups, so learning that it is not just me doing the work, but relying on other people, teamwork and communication are what I learnt,” said Debruyn.

“Confidence is key. Even if you’re not confident in what you’re selling, false confidence is extremely important. People buy ‘why’ you do it, not ‘what’ you do,” said Coriano.