Gulliver Prep senior Caitlyn Landsom uses her volunteer opportunities to help her fellow students. She’s secretary of the Health Information Project, which is a vehicle to teach freshman students about health issues.
“We go to freshman classes,” she says. “One of the things we cover is drug and alcohol abuse.”
They also cover mental health and sex information. Members of HIP go to the directed studies classes twice a month to teach the topic of that day.
“There are eight different modules,” she says.
They finished the fifth module in mid-January.
The freshman students are generally attentive but there are some heavier topics that they seem to want presented in a more light-hearted way.
“We try to make it more relatable,” Landsom says. “This is peer to peer. They take it more to heart because it’s stuff we’ve experienced.”
Landsom says the student facilitators do not impart any opinions on what they are telling the freshman. They will tell them if you do this, this can happen. They do educate the younger students about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and give them resources if they have further questions.
“In addition to us doing the modules, we also have posters around the school,” she says.
Those posters give students information links for resources about mental health or who to call if they are in abusive relationships.
Freshmen can also ask them follow-up questions.
“We can help them one on one if they are not comfortable advocating for themselves in a classroom setting,” she says.
Landsom is a member of the GPAHC, the academic council that deals with students who have been found to have violated academic standards in ways such as cheating or plagiarizing.
She’s been on the council since her junior year. Those named to the council have to be nominated by a counselor, they have to fill out an application and go through an interview process.
When they meet as a board, they will sit in a semi-circle. They are briefed on the case and they are able to ask questions of the student accused of the misdeed. The council passes judgement -they decide if the student is given a warning, a strike or if dismissal is called for.
“Sometimes they will forget to cite something. We will talk to them. That will be more to the extent of a warning,” she says. “We know you didn’t mean to cheat but you did and you need to understand the consequences. Usually once they’ve gotten a warning they don’t come back.”
The student is given feedback on how to avoid such problems in the future. A strike has more consequences.
“It depends on how severe the cheating has been. Someone you know they copied someone’s answers, they get a strike on the first offense,” she says. “Once they get a strike, they have to go through a process. Community service, detentions and writing a letter to the principal of the school.”
Dismissals rarely happen.
Landsom is president of GPAWS, an animal welfare society.
“We promote animal health. We try to do drives and we’ll sponsor a walk,” she says.
Club members educate students on why you shouldn’t leave your pet in the car on hot days. They also work with animal shelters and donate food and toys.
In college, Landsom plans to major in neuroscience or biology following a pre-med track with the idea of becoming a doctor. She applied early action to Davidson, Wake Forest, the University of North Carolina, the University of Miami, the University of Florida, Norte Dame and Emory.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld