Photo by JENI McGEE

Kansas Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, Kansas State Board of Education chair Jim McNiece and state Sen. Larry Alley, R-Winfield, visited Arkansas City High School on Jan. 17.

During the visit, four ACHS Leadership students shared their service projects with the visiting politicians.

These projects are completed each year by high school students. Projects from previous classes were provided, as well, including 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Colyer encouraged the students to apply for the Citizenship Award, which is given out by his office.

ACHS teacher Braden Smith introduced the students, each of whom described the process and conclusion of her individual project.

Bethany Blatchford

The first student to share was Bethany Blatchford, who chose to use her project as an opportunity to show gratitude to the Arkansas City Police Department for interacting with prekindergarten and kindergarten students. She decided to create thank-you cards for each of the police officers employed by ACPD.

Photo by JENI McGEE

As part of her project, she had to contact several individuals, starting with Arkansas City Public School District administrators.

Blatchford said she purchased the supplies needed to make the cards and scheduled times to go to each of the elementary schools to create them.

She had help along the way, in the form of friends who volunteered to help her to create the cards with the Pre-K and kindergarten classes.

One of the things Blatchford said she hoped to accomplish with her project was changing the perception of youth regarding the police.

During her presentation, Blatchford presented thank-you cards to Police Chief Dan Ward, Lt. Anthony Rider and School Resource Officer Brian McGee.

Sara Mort

The second student, Sara Mort, made it her mission to provide food for families in need during the Christmas holiday.

Mort reached out to ACPD Officer Jason Legleiter to identify two families to receive donations. She also solicited food donations from multiple sources.

Mort was able to provide enough food for both families to make a complete turkey dinner, including dessert. She also included a $10 Dillons gift certificate.

“Not all families have the same tradition,” Mort said. “I wanted them to be able to pick (items up) that might not have been included.”

Tia Breckenridge

The third student, Tia Breckenridge, conducted a winter weather clothing drive.

Her initial goal was to provide 25 coats or jackets and five scarves to those in need.

However, because of the amount of clothing items collected, she was able to give many more than her goal.

Breckenridge reached out to several people for help in her efforts, including Janice Miller, Allyson Smith, Angels in the Attic and the ACHS KAY Club.

She was able to gather 51 coats, eight scarves, three pairs of gloves and a pair of boots.

Halle Bucher

The final student to present was Halle Bucher, who said she struggled initially to decide upon a project.

But at the encouragement of a friend, she decided to follow what she calls her passion. With the help of her employer, Rogers Family Dentistry, she was able to pass out 72 bags that included dental hygiene products during the Trunk or Treat event last October at the Arkansas City Recreation Center.

The bags were stuffed with a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss and mouthwash.

One of the slogans she used for her space during the event was “Go Bananas Over Good Dental Hygiene.” She wore a banana costume for the event.

“The parents kind of appreciated it more than the kids,” said Bucher, who wants to become a dental hygienist when she graduates.