As a high school student at the Global Learning Charter Public School, I have learned so much this year, both in the classroom and in my school community. My teachers have always told me that I can use my voice for good, and this year I actually did just that. 

Earlier this year, we were discussing hurricanes in one of my classes. At the time, I was worrying about how the latest hurricane had caused so much damage in Puerto Rico and had led to more suffering for the people who live there. My parents and I had been checking with family and friends who live on the island to make sure they were safe. Luckily, they were OK. But so many others were not. 

I asked my teacher, Ms. Fernandes, what we could do to help. We brainstormed ideas and I asked, “What if we collected items such as batteries and personal hygiene products to send to Puerto Rico?” I asked if I could place a collection box in the main office. 

Ms. Fernandes encouraged me to email school administrators about my suggestion. I was really surprised when an administrator came to talk to me about it because I didn’t think people checked their email any more. 

We talked about a school-wide fundraiser. In the end, we held two fundraisers. The student council held a raffle to raise money for the relief fund. Also, since it was Hispanic Heritage Month, there was a school-wide dress-down day. Students who donated $1 could wear a non-uniform shirt that reflected pride in their own culture, ethnicity or background. 

The two fundraisers combined raised $370, which is a decent amount for our school community. 

I’ve learned a lot from this experience. I learned that most people feel the same way I do and want to help others who are in a bad situation. I learned that many people in our community have strong ties to Puerto Rico and have the same concerns that I do. Most importantly, I am now more likely to speak up when I see a problem or a situation that needs to be addressed. 

There is one more thing I would like to add. Since using my voice, I have met more people in my school. Some students have been asking me about how I was able to do what I did. Now, I hope I can help others use their voice when they see a situation where people are suffering and they want to do what they can to help. 

Xavier Echevarria-Mojica is a high school student at Global Learning Charter Public School.