MCA seniors make service a priority their last year
By Christine Bordelon, The Clarion Herald
February 19, 2021
COVID-19 hits and then you are elected senior class president via Zoom. With normal senior activities up in the air, what is a leader to do?
If you are Samantha (Sam) Carriere, a senior at Mount Carmel Academy, you think of a classwide service project to bring seniors together while simultaneously benefiting society.
“I am very privileged,” Sam said. “I come home and have food to eat and clean water to drink. Everything at Mount Carmel is super service (oriented). We are taught to be servant leaders.”
Inspired by several hands-on learning projects launched by the school’s “Design Cycle” – whose aim is to encourage students to solve real-world problems – Sam began to think of a pressing local problem that her fellow seniors could engage in.
“Over the summer, when we would have been planning Spirit Day, I planned an activity for our fall semester service project,” Sam said.
She envisioned writing letters to senior citizens who were quarantined and isolated from others because of the pandemic.
“From One Senior to Another” resulted in 150 letters being written and mailed to residents at St. Margaret’s at Mercy.
By the end of the semester, Sam had conceived a second project, “Christmas Toys and Joy.” Selecting three children’s names from the Angel Tree at her parish, Divine Mercy in Kenner, she invited her classmates to donate money to buy the requested items on each angel tag.
“There was a 12-year-old girl, a 10-year-old girl and a newborn,” Sam said. “They wanted very basic things. I think we raised a lot of money. We were able to buy them way more than what they asked for.”
Seniors have enjoyed the opportunity to give back.
“This is our senior year and something we’ve looked forward to forever,” Sam said. “It is different from what was planned yet so easy to get caught up in feeling sad for what we lost. But service is a humbling experience, knowing others are in such need. The seniors could have it worse, but we are still in person at school; we have food on the table and a loving family. People have enjoyed it.”
Sam said principal Beth Ann Simno was “bragging on the senior class because she was proud of us.”
“We weren’t just wallowing in our sadness,” Sam said. “Miss Simno wants it to be a legacy thing and be part of every class now.”
What’s the next service project for Mount Carmel seniors?
“We will try to gather and send some things for people in the military,” Sam said, knowing first-hand from a relative stationed in Lithuania that it is freezing there and very poor. “My aunt says to please send toilet paper or chocolate. We are going to assign different things to different senior classes.”
Sam has always wanted to work in health care and said doing these service projects has expanded her notion of what it takes to be a good doctor. She plans to attend LSU’s Honors College and then apply to LSU Medical School.
“It has shown me that it is more than being smart and understanding the body,” she said. “You have to be an empathetic person and recognize the needs in the community in a role like that. It is important to be aware of people’s financial needs. I have become passionate about service. The more you do it, you gain so much from it.