Daily Point of Light # 1919 Jun 12, 2001

Despite Sister Anita Marie’s success as a mathematics teacher, it is her position as BETA chair for the past twelve years that she help increase social awareness among teenagers, inspiring her “students of life” to become involved in their communities.

As a mathematics teacher, Sister Anita understands the power of multiplication and invests time in others, trying to duplicate herself. It is in this fashion that she and a multitude of her “students of life” are able to mobilize and try to make a difference as community needs arise.

To sponsor interest in the program, she pioneered a Social Awareness workshop for freshmen, where they spend the day reflecting on community needs and then set out to serve in the community with representatives of various agencies. In promoting social awareness, she has empowered a group of high school sophomores through seniors to serve their communities.

Currently, the group has grown to approximately 150 students, which is about two-thirds of the eligible population. Members of the group pledge to complete at least nine community service activities, averaging about four hours per activity, throughout the school year as well as one additional activity in service to the school. Sister Anita shows her support at every activity. Initially, she scheduled all of the activities, but as the program has expanded, she formed a board of outstanding group members to help meet the needs of the community. As an organization, they have provided food, clothing, shelter, and companionship to many.

Sister Anita has also used her creativity to come up with new and innovative ways to motivate the entire school to service. Under her direction the school sponsors an annual “Turkey Bowl” and “Penny War.” Each year for the Penny War, students in the BETA Club elect a charity to support. Following this decision, Sister Anita runs a weeklong campaign including posters, prayers, and videos, making students aware of social needs in the community and the people they have elected to support. Through the contest, Sister Anita appeals to the caring, competitive and strategic sides of each class, competing against other grade levels.

Throughout the past years, the amount of money raised in one week by approximately 400 students has escalated to the current level of over $4,500. The Turkey Bowl is similar, in that it serves as a canned good and money drive, prior to Thanksgiving, using events and activities that many students enjoy and helps support those in need. Each year they collect thousands of canned goods and dollars to donate to local soup kitchens and OxFam, respectively.

When supplies were running low on prizes for the monthly Bingo, one student took the initiative to convince Jergens to sponsor lotion as prizes. This past summer, Sister Anita traveled to Mexico, and volunteered at a school to help set up a computer lab and aid in instruction of mathematics to those less fortunate.