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Students making a difference in bullying

Emma Briard, Teri Harthun and Eve Honer put together bags with various hygiene products purchased from a donation by KLN Family Brands. To continue their project when money ran out, they planned a fundraiser in partnership with Lakeside Tap. Submitted photo

Three Perham High School seniors have embarked on a service project to provide hygiene kits to students and adults in the area to combat bullying. The girls have titled their project, "Students Making a Difference."

Jennifer Bain, an English teacher at the high school, implemented Genius Hour in her classroom to "allow students to explore their own passions." According to the Genius website, it also encourages creativity in the classroom and provides students a choice in what they learn during a set period of time during school."

The idea of the Genius Hour stems from many businesses discovering that productivity goes up when they allow employees to spend 20 percent of their time on projects that they have an interest in. When implemented in the classroom, students are given their own learning time to explore a passion of theirs. Students must start with a question that seems unanswered, research it and find a way to solve or answer the question. Classroom work involves sharing it in any way they can.

The three seniors — Eve Honer, Emma Briard and Teri Harthun — asked "Why do people get bullied?" Their research indicated one reason was lack of personal hygiene, often because they don't have access to adequate hygiene products. They set out to take away that reason by making hygiene kits for students and adults in the community.

After securing a $2,000 donation from KLN Family Brands, the girls got to work on creating and distributing the kits. With the funds, they were able to provide hygiene kits to Boys & Girls Club, Head Start, Celebrate Recovery, Backpack Program, the 4th Grade Hygiene Talk, and the 5th Grade Puberty Talk.

The kits began flying out of their hands, and they had run out of money to make more kits, so they planned a larger project by planning a bean bag tournament, partnering with Lakeside Tap. The event, held Saturday, April 1, raised ....., and included a silent auction. Lakeside Tap donated a portion of the brats and beer sales for the day to the hygiene project.

In addition, they conducted a week-long donation drive through April 7, during which they asked businesses to act as drop off points for residents, who were asked to donate travel-size hygiene products or cash donations. All of the funds collected went to provide hygiene kits for people of all ages.

Anyone who would still like to donate to "Students Making a Difference" may drop donations off at Perham High School. The girls are seeking travel-size hygiene products, including shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrushes, body wash, deodorant, soap, etc.