As a resource for a safe place for at risk students, the IMPACT program is having a positive impact at one community high school
The program is an innovation at Washington Community High School for students identified as academically struggling, truant, or having behavior issues.
“We’re providing a safe place for these students,” said IMPACT founder and coordinator Nick Pacelli. “It’s a place where people care about them, listen to them and care about what they say. We keep telling them they’re not bad people. They’ve just made some bad decisions, and we’re not giving up on them. It’s a roller coaster sometimes. Students will be on the way up, and something will bring them down. The key is to teach them and for them to learn that being up is much better than being down.”
Inspire, Motivate, Pride, Achieve, Commit and Trust are what the letters in IMPACT stand for. Numbers show improvement in students taking additional credits and passing classes, and declining behavioral issues.
The secret of the program’s success is community service projects. IMPACT students organize, plan, and participate in projects as long as they meet the goals established by the IMPACT team.
“We want students to brainstorm ideas, develop projects and implement them,” Pacelli said. “This is how they become leaders. Giving students the lead significantly increases their self-esteem, motivation, engagement, citizenship skills, teamwork and accountability.”