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SMCS Students Embrace Opportunity to Give

As the season of giving is underway, St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) students are answering the call to serve others by rolling up their sleeves to support a worthy cause.

Helping lead the initiative are James Simone and Niko Sopta, two Grade 12 students who, alongside guidance counsellor Norah Higgins Burnham, co-organized the extremely successful Fall Blood Drive.

SMCS students outside of Canadian Blood Services ahead of the Fall Blood Drive.
SMCS students gathered outside of Canadian Blood Services ahead of the Fall Blood Drive.

“The thing that motivated me to get involved with the SMCS blood drive is knowing the big impact it has on the lives of people,” says Simone. “I don’t know who could receive my blood, but that’s not important. Knowing I am able to potentially save someone’s life is what makes all the difference.”

Leadership in Action

The SMCS Fall Blood Drive, now in its second year, was held on November 14 towards the end of the school day. Students who participated also had the opportunity to earn Christian Service hours for their time.

“Twenty students made the trip down to College Street to participate in our Fall Blood Drive,” says Higgins Burnham, who was one of three faculty members to donate as well as accompany the students. “Our students were upbeat, positive, and very supportive of one another!”

James Simone, Gr. 12 SMCS student, donating blood at Canadian Blood Services
James Simone, Gr. 12, donating blood during the Fall Blood Drive.

Ahead of the service initiative, Simone and Sopta played a significant role in getting the word out to their peers and classmates.

“Working with James, we created a promotional video and put it on the morning announcements every day for two weeks leading up to the event,” says Sopta. “We also created posters and put them in the Grade 12 classrooms.”

Simone adds, “It was a very successful event, and I am proud of everyone who participated. We had more [interested] participants than spots available, and everyone showed the true spirit of a St. Michael’s man.”

Beginning the Journey to Become Donors

Simone and Sopta became first-time donors at the end of the 2022-23 academic year during the first SMCS blood drive that had been organized in recent years. According to Canadian Blood Services, in order to donate blood, donors must be at least 17 years old.

“I wasn’t sure how it was going to go before [I donated in the spring], but realizing how easy and effortless it was for me, it motivated me to help out this year and continue to donate blood,” says Sopta. “It was important for me to participate because I know that my blood type is compatible for everybody. I am young, which is the perfect part of my life for giving blood.”

Niko Sopta, Gr. 12 SMCS student, donating blood at Canadian Blood Services
Niko Sopta, Gr. 12, donating blood at Canadian Blood Services.

For Simone, donating blood meant even more to him because of his medical history.

“When I was younger, I needed many emergency blood transfusions. Thanks to those who donated their blood, I received this gift of life,” says Simone. “As a result, from when I was a small kid, I knew the importance of donating blood, and I wanted to reciprocate the actions of the people who helped me. Being able to save someone’s life is very motivating for me, and it is why it is so important that I donate blood.”

Continuing the Impact

Planning is underway for the next SMCS blood drive on February 8, which both Simone and Sopta will again assist with.

“I am looking forward to participating in the spring blood drive. Our goal is to double (40 students) the number of students participating, and we’re planning on donating with another local school. We are also looking at adding one more blood drive after the spring event,” says Simone.

“We’re going to try to spread awareness of the blood drive as much as possible to motivate people to donate blood not just for Christian service hours at St. Mike’s but also outside of the school in their own communities,” adds Sopta.

Pillar of Service to SMCS Students

Service and giving back to communities are a major focus at SMCS, and students are expected to earn additional Christian service hours on top of the provincially required 40 hours.

SMCS students inside Canadian Blood Services donating blood

“SMCS has had a large impact on my commitment to serve,” says Simone. “Serving our community is what makes us a great school. Everyone at SMCS believes in giving back. At SMCS, teachers and administration are very involved within the community, and they set a great example for all students.”

“Service is an important part of my SMCS education because that is what we are taught to do at SMCS,” says Sopta. “Goodness, discipline, and knowledge all play a part in servicing our community. By practicing this, we are able to do better as people and help our community out.”

Related links:

Service at SMCS

Mentorship and Leadership

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