ServeKnox Festival Highlights Student Achievements

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by Kevin Ridder

Experience isn’t something that can be learned in a classroom.

Students all across Knoxville are taking the initiative to better their community, whether it be starting a toy drive for underprivileged children or a campaign to collect backpacks for students who couldn’t afford school supplies.

This Saturday, April 30, ServeKnox, a festival celebrating these undertakings and encouraging other students to follow suit, will be taking place at West High School from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.

The event was organized by West High student Griffin Hamstead and West High social studies teacher Caleb Clark after they saw some of the charitable work Knox County students were participating in.

“These students aren’t waiting till they’re in their careers to start nonprofits, community movements, drives for things or fundraisers,” Clark says. “We really wanted to highlight and celebrate those that are already going and twofold are inspiring those to find their own passion. We hope that students will either jump on board with a movement that’s already happening, or even start their own.”

Both Clark and Hamstead are Bezos Scholars, a program in which 30 top high school students and educators are selected from across the U.S. and Africa for a yearlong leadership development program. The program begins with a scholarship to the Aspen Ideas Festival in the Rocky Mountains, where the participants are given the chance to attend talks and discussions given by some of the “greatest minds of our time.”

When the students and educators return, they are prepared to affect change in their own communities through local ideas festivals such as ServeKnox.

“One joy of the festival will be that we’ll get to showcase and see so many of these,” Clark says. “And it’s not just West High Students. We want students from all Knox County to be there, and we want businesses and community leaders and members to be there to celebrate students who are attending, to network with them and talk to students about ways they can jump in and join their organization or serve with it, to be a part of their group; whatever it is.

“We feel like that’s very true to what Knoxville is.”

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