UTAH

Parent volunteers building bridges at Highland High School

May 24, 2017, 10:36 AM | Updated: 11:41 am
Highland high school (photo credit: Highland high school)
(photo credit: Highland high school)

highland high school

SALT LAKE CITY — A group of moms at Highland High School wanted to volunteer their time, but they were surprised by their principal’s assignment. He asked them to help the growing number of refugee and immigrant students.

Now, these moms’ efforts are slowly changing lives and attitudes.

The parent volunteers are Lisa Thornton, Deirdre Straight, Mindi Rich and Natalie Connolly. They organized a cultural exchange on Thursdays during the two lunch hours, for students of all different backgrounds.

On a recent Thursday, Straight was putting out giant pages of a map on the floor as an activity for them to do.

IMG_9238

She says playing games and practicing English has led to friendships among the students.

“We want this to eventually be an extracurricular activity or club, where refugee and immigrant students will have opportunities for leadership roles,” said Straight.

They also help in the ESL and English Language Development Classes, working in small groups within two to four students.

Lisa Thornton’s daughter recently changed classes at the semester break and thought she didn’t know anyone in her new class until she recognized one of the refugee students from the Thursday exchange activities.

“She went and sat by him, and now they are good friends. Wherever they are in school, they find each other,” said Thornton.

The moms set up a way for other parents to volunteer for an hour or so as well.

“Parents come in the one time, and they are converted. They love the kids, and they feel like they learn a lot from them. They then go back and sign up for more time slots,” said Straight.
They want these efforts to last beyond their time at Highland High.

“You see these things on the news, and our kids are going to school with kids who have been through these things. I like that they can connect with other kids who have so much to offer with what experiences they have been through,” said Rich.

“I hope our kids see you can help, and here’s how to do it, so in every setting, they will be helpers,” said Thornton.

Today’s Top Stories

Utah

free national park...
Aimee Cobabe

Lawsuit against Arches National Park after incident resulting in the death of a woman

A trial is underway after a woman was decapitated at Arches National Park. Her family alleges the park was negligent in not securing a gate that killed her.
1 day ago
quilts...
Elizabeth Weiler

Middle schoolers represent Utah in national donation of quilts

The Homeless Memorial Blanket Project will provide nearly 500 quilts. Midvale Middle School is representing Utah.
1 day ago
View of a wooden Nativity Scene on display at the Christmas Market on the Main Market Square in Kra...
AJ Willingham, CNN

Nativity sets are getting a minimalist makeover

Brooklyn Swenson, an artist in Utah, says she drew on this inspiration for her brightly colored minimalist nativity set.
1 day ago
Pfeifferhorn Avalanche...
Alexandrea Bonilla

Utah Avalanche Awareness Week is underway

To promote safety while recreating at Utah's ski resorts, the Utah Avalanche Center is holding it's fourth annual Avalanche Awareness Week.
1 day ago
bomb threat Utah Tech...
Devin Oldroyd

Utah Tech student dies after falling from fifth-story balcony

A Utah Tech University student is dead after falling from a fifth-story balcony early Sunday morning. The death appears to be accidental.
2 days ago
This morning the Gary Sinise Foundation's Snowball Express made a pit stop at the new SLC Airport o...
Waverly Golden

Snowball Express arrives at Salt Lake City Airport

On Dec. 3 the Gary Sinise Foundation's Snowball Express made a pit stop at the new SLC Airport on its way to Orlando Walt Disney World. 
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Parent volunteers building bridges at Highland High School