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Middle school students raise funds for hope. one tree at a time

by Tim Troglen | reporter Published: October 12, 2016 12:08 AM
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Hudson -- As far back as 1374, English writer and poet Geoffrey Chaucer was penning variations of how a mighty oak tree grows from a tiny acorn.

In 2016 Hudson Middle School students are living another variation of the saying by showing how great a work can come from a small mineral tree.

Soon residents will see trees made from minerals sprouting up at local conferences, district buildings and online.

The trees will be auctioned off, as well as stationary which will be sold, with proceeds benefitting The Ohio House. The Ohio House is a California-based rehab facility started in 2008 by Hudsonite Brandon Stump. Ohio House not only helps those struggling with addiction, it works with them to achieve long-term sobriety.

According to Knapp, addiction is "not a character problem, it's a chemical problem."

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Knapp's son, Jonathan, has found help with his own addiction at Hudson House.

"They saved his life and I was so inspired by their generosity and how they helped him make it through," Knapp said.

But, it's the fruit of the tree science teacher Joan Knapp, her family, students and a crew of volunteers are excited about.

The trees, made by the sixth-grade service team, are attached with original poems written by other sixth-grade team members to inspire and raise hope.

"The poetry is not written about just addiction," Knapp said. "They are written to give people healing and hope on any topic."

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Last year Knapp, and her daughter, Anna Rose, 14, helped raise $10,000 for Ohio House through an educational Power Point program "Anna's Story Addiction is a Family Disease," at Kent City Schools.

This year, they have joined with the middle school sixth-graders to create 250 mineral trees, attached with original poems, to be auctioned off for charity.

The trees stand about six inches tall and are made of rock, gemstones and wire.

Each student has their picture taken with their tree.

"They'll always know they were part of something bigger," Knapp said.

Each tree will be auctioned off, with a starting bid of $10, Knapp said. Each tree is bid on at a silent auction.

The average price has been about $30, but some have brought in up to $100, Knapp said.

"It's not that our trees are worth that much," Knapp said. "But our purpose is worth that much."

Knapp calls the project a "passion project."

"It started with a simple science project I wanted to do with the kids to give them something memorable to do with our rock and mineral unit," Knapp said.

The project now incorporates science, art and some math.

"This passion project has been made possible not only because of the wonderful sixth grade students but also parents, retired teachers, HMS sixth grade science and our art teachers," Knapp said.

Anna Rose, Knapp's daughter, is also passionate about the project and sharing her family's story.

"I wanted to speak out about addiction as a family disease so kids don't feel so alone like I did," Anna Rose said. "I want kids to feel a sense of hope. I also want kids to understand how serious a problem heroin addiction is and that it starts out slowly with smoking, marijuana, and drinking."

Anna Rose is proud of her brother, she said.

"I'm also proud and happy that my brother is doing great and that we can raise money to help others get the help they need to fight this disease," she said.

Sue Factor is a retired teacher and volunteered to help the class.

"The Hope Tree Project not only provides necessary drug use and prevention education for the sixth-graders, but also, gives these students an opportunity to experience the joy of giving," Factor said. "The student created trees grow in the hands of the children, and in turn, the students grow through the many life lessons shared by Ms. Knapp as she coordinates this project."

Amy Fultz is a parent volunteer with Project Hope Tree.

"I can't think of a better way to volunteer my time," according to Fultz. "Money raised by the Hope Tree Project will certainly help those at the Ohio House. Perhaps more importantly, Ms. Knapp is laying critical groundwork in service and selflessness during the tender middle school years."

According to Fultz "hours spent twisting wire with their little hands may be the one thing that helps these kids choose well between the path of the disease of addiction, and that of compassion and understanding."

Mary Dardas, a retired teacher, is also a volunteer with the project.

"During the time I have spent in Joan's classroom, I have been impressed by the valuable life lessons her students are learning as they assemble the Hope trees. They are learning about service to others and about compassion," according to Dardas. "They are also learning about perseverance as Joan encourages her students during the challenging assembly of the trees. Joan takes every opportunity to use the project as a way to tie it in to substance abuse resistance. Joan's students will long remember the lessons learned from the Hope Tree Project."

And according to Factor, the lessons learned by the middle schools will continue.

"These students will long remember the contributions that they give to this project and all that they have learned," Factor added.

For more on The Ohio House visit www.ohio-house.com.

To bid on a tree stop into any district building and go to the office.

Email: ttroglen@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9435

Twitter: @Trog_RPC


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