Girls soccer coach Annie Wayland and softball coach Jeff Chazen both teach in the Parkway West Social Studies Department and they are helping make difference in the West County community away from the athletic fields.
For the past three years, the department has participated in a service learning project connected with the Great Depression unit taught in the modern U.S. history classes.
The project consists of a canned food drive challenge. The department splits into two teams and students bring in canned food items over a two-week period which are then donated to Circle of Concern a local food bank during the holiday season.
“We collect canned goods for the Circle of Concern in conjunction with our Great Depression Unit in U.S. history class,” Wayland said. “It ties in nicely as the unit falls after Thanksgiving and before winter break. We have been donating to Circle of Concern for 10 years now and have made the project into a competition the past three years.
“Each month Circle of Concern feeds approximately 2,000 people (more than a third of those are children) in the Parkway, Rockwood, and Valley Park school districts.
Wayland led one team and Chazen the other.
“Jeff Chazen and I resumed our annual Circle of Concern Food Drive Challenge Competition this year,” Wayland said. “The competition lasts for about two school weeks. Our department and hallway friends (SSD teachers and academic support staff as well as one English teacher in our hallway) all have been divided up into two teams: Team Wayland or Team Chazen. Throughout the two weeks we collect items and report the scores on the chart at the end of everyday.”
The battle is one where everyone was a winner.
A total of $1,464.23 in cash was raised alongside the food can challenge.
Team Wayland collected 2,667 items and Team Chazen collected 2,219 items.
“Although Team Wayland has won three years strong now, the real winners are the Circle of Concern and our West High community,” Wayland said. “Circle of Concern is winning by receiving such a large amount of goods that will provide food for those in need during the holiday season and months to come. West High wins by demonstrating and acknowledging the amazing students and staff working together.
“Giving back to the community that supports our students and our school in so many ways is an excellent lesson in kindness, compassion, citizenship, and selflessness. Generosity and empathy for others are traits that we value for our students, knowing that we are all invested in every member of our community. Every person matters.”
Chazen said the students deserve all the credit for their efforts. Moreover, they learn a valuable lesson that ties in with their studies.
“I was proud of our students and how they rose to the occasion of donating a record amount of items. I am glad that Circle of Concern was the big winner. I also think the students enjoy how we tie this in with our academic studies. It does make the topic of the Great Depression more relevant by doing this wonderful activity.”
Ever the competitor, however, Chazen noted he will be working to topple Team Wayland next winter.
“I am now reassessing my plans on how to defeat Ms. Wayland since this is the third year she has defeated me,” Chazen quipped.
Members of the department besides Wayland and Chazen are Kristen Collins, John Wright, Lara Boles, Amy Thornhill, Britteny Hess, Jim Hermann, Zaven Nalbandian, Mel Trotier, and Nancy Sachtleben. Other teachers who participated included Valerie Townsend, Mike Skordos, Celia Maness and Gail Appel.
Circle of Concern picked up the items and take them to their facility to feed those in need.