By Andrew Campanella with Savanna Buckner
“Listen, your life is not just about you, but it’s to make the life of someone else better.”
That’s one of the core messages that guidance counselor Anthony Bryant wants to instill in his students at the Carolina School for Inquiry.
While serving others certainly isn’t about what you receive in return, sometimes it does bring a lot of happiness! Students at the Carolina School for Inquiry learned about the joy of service recently when Bryant led them on a visit to veterans at a nearby VA hospital.
Bryant described how the trip was inspired by his own visit to the VA.
“I’m a veteran myself and I’m very active as far as going to the VA hospitals for normal check-ups and so forth,” said Bryant, founder of the Boys Leadership Academy, a group of male students in third through sixth grade at the Carolina School for Inquiry.
On one of his VA trips, he thought about how great it would be for the Boys Leadership Academy students to encounter firsthand the veterans’ stories of sacrifice.
Bryant realized that, not only would the veterans be able to testify to the power of service, but the students would be able to serve them by sharing their time and energy.
“Last year we went out and fed the homeless and provided meals for those in need,” Bryant described. “So this year we thought, ‘We’ll go to individuals who are not out in public and share some love with them and hear stories and tell them thank you for your service.’”
The Boys Leadership Academy students brought care packages to the veterans and spent time thanking them for their service.
According to Bryant, the veterans’ were eager to share their war stories, which helped students realize just how challenging, and how impactful, sacrifices can be.
“What they learned is that this was a sacrifice for the freedoms that we enjoy today,” Bryant said. “It was really great and the kids learned a lot. They really did.”
Bryant’s goal in founding the Boys Leadership Academy was to help students develop leadership qualities so they can become successful adults.
“We teach responsibility, integrity, time management, manners, and one of our components is service,” Bryant explained. “That’s not often in the vocabulary of students sometimes, and young people, but we teach service and how to go out and be effective and have an impact on the community.”
The student trip to the VA inspired students in more ways than one. First, it inspired students to give back to their community and showed them the positive impact they can have when they give back. Second, it also inspired students to consider a career in a line of service that they otherwise might not have thought about.
Bryant said that one of the main takeaways for students was this: “It showed them that whatever we’ve been gifted and blessed to have, we can make an impact in the lives of others.”
Service isn’t something to do for money or fame, Bryant said, but there’s certainly a reward. When students make a positive impact on those they serve, the positivity boomerangs back around to them.
“Students love the impact that they receive,” said Bryant. “They love giving back to the community or making the lives of others better.”