Yellow Bench Project

The Yellow Bench Project teammates get cozy on their newest creation, a bench built to inspire residents and visitors to recycle.


Concluding a year of community-based projects, the Why Wait? club participants presented successes, failures and lessons learned on the evening of March 27 to family and friends.

Advisors Amanda Wicklund and Peg Medcraft organized Why Wait? for this school year as an alternative program for students interested in becoming mindful and making concrete impacts in areas that interest them right now. At the beginning of the school year, Wicklund and Medcraft asked the 36 participating students, “Why wait to change the world?” 

With that in mind, students chose a problem in the world that they are passionate about and developed plausible solutions, with the help of peers and local mentors. And since failure is a possibility, as it is in anything, Wicklund noted, “It was failures that made them succeed in the end.”

On the night of “Change-Maker Chats,” family, friends and mentors were treated to five-minute presentations from nine participating group projects  where the importance of their topics in our community were discussed, how well they achieved their goals and what they will take from this experience. 

Building wren habitat

The first to present was Sean Rogers. Sean explained in depth his love of nature, especially at a young age, attending numerous community events centered on wildlife and nature. 

This exposure sparked an interest in wildlife conservation for Sean, especially preserving the nearby bird population. For his project, Sean partnered with the ArtBarn to schedule a Saturday morning this upcoming month where families may come to learn more about birds while building birdhouses to provide safe and long-lasting homes for the large wren population in the area. 

Positive relationships with food

Next, Christina Nygren discussed the importance of nutrition, especially for our youth. Christina is concerned about the obesity epidemic and hopes that her blog will illustrate the importance of developing healthy habits at a young age that will carry them throughout life. She explains, “It is important to educate ourselves.” Christina paired her blog posts with first-hand experience in the food industry working at The Watershed Café too. She observed, “Developing positive relationships with food can result in seeing the great things it can do for you.” 

Mural for residents, visitors

Third, Skye Federation and Justin Vorndran joined forces to establish the Osceola Mural Project. They wanted to paint a mural on a building in Osceola to attract tourists and help residents appreciate our community. After much networking, Skye and Justin established a spot on the building of Adoray Home Health and Hospice at 120 Cascade St. for their mural. However, it is unclear what the image will be and when it will be painted. But Skye and Justin clarified that this experience has been “an enlightening process being able to network and see our vision play out.” 

Student rec center

Danielle Annunziata created the idea of a student recreation center at OHS, fitted with an assortment of furniture for students to relax in and talk between classes. So far, Danielle has received donations from Slumberland Furniture as well as monetary donations from generous community members. But she still has a ways to go before all required furniture is collected. 

Seeds of self love

Isabelle Osterbauer presented on self-love. She hopes that her project planted the seed of loving oneself in each student at OHS. In doing this, Isabelle sends an inspirational text each morning to interested students and painted the bathroom stalls with positive quotes and other beautiful imagery. Isabelle explains, “I created this project for Why Wait? just as much as I did for myself.” 

Focus on water 

Brooke Bents and Emily Fox are passionate about solving the global water crisis. In an effort to make an impact, they partnered with H2O for Life, a non-profit in White Bear Lake that aims to educate youth on what they can do to be productive global citizens. With the help of H2O for Life, Brooke and Emily organized a fundraiser called World Water Day. This event’s purpose was to raise awareness of the global water crisis and raise funds to send to the Kimu Primary School in Uganda. Handmade water bottles and keychains were sold. Brooke and Emily raised $1,100.  

Autism awareness

Autism awareness is a large part of Abbi Michel’s life. She explained that autistic individuals are capable of anything they set their minds to; they have strengths and obstacles like everyone else and Abbi’s project aimed to demonstrate that. She sold shirts supporting the work of the Autism Society of Minnesota and fitted an autism library in OHS that can be incorporated in daily school life to remind everyone of the significance of autism awareness. 

Stress busting animals

Nina Savoy and Alexis Parish saw stress weighing on their peers preparing for the ACT, applying for college, and juggling course loads with extracurricular activities. The pair came up with the idea of Pawsitively Therapeutic, a way for students to reduce stress by petting and playing with dogs. They hoped to bring therapy dogs to OHS before the ACT, but the plan did not pan out in time. Although the project faltered, they learned valuable lessons about networking and event planning. This is what Why Wait is about — preparation and exposure to the problems around us and the best ways to tackle them. 

Yellow bench and recycling

The Yellow Bench Project was developed by CeCe Snell, Frankie Larson, Parker Gangestad, Hailee Richison, Sophia Egge, and Angelique Tretsven, as a solution to the global recycling crisis. These students built a bright yellow bench out of recycled wood and painted it yellow, to capture everyone’s attention. Printed tips and statistics about recycling to create awareness of recycling on a larger scale wil be coming. CeCe exclaimed, “It is in the hands of us to make a greener world.”

Program will expand

Why Wait? has continued to receive rave reviews from staff, parents, students and others for helping students plan projects, execute solutions and gain exposure to real world issues. Next fall, Why Wait will be offered as a course open to juniors and seniors as well as an extracurricular club.

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