Meet the students from E.A. Laney’s Students Against Violence Everywhere chapter, Allstate Foundation grant recipients

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WILMINGTON — The E.A. Laney High School chapter of Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE) won an Allstate Foundation grant last week and met on Monday, Oct. 31, to celebrate and plan for the coming year.

The biweekly meeting allowed students to review their recent volunteer efforts in the community. Several members had attended the  YMCA’s “Potluck for Peace,” held in mid-October, and discussed their experiences there. Mackenzie Lancaster, 17, told some of the younger members, “It’s work, if you don’t want to work, don’t volunteer!”

No one in attendance seemed daunted by Lancaster’s friendly warning. In fact, several members said they enjoyed how challenging SAVE membership could be. With the help of the Allstate grant, students hoped to accomplish even more. Lancaster added that she tells younger members, “you only live once, so don’t mess it up. Get as involved as you can. You will not regret it.”

“I’d tell new members, or students thinking about joining, ‘go to the meetings!'” Victoria Chang, 16, said. “There’s really so much to do. It’s really involved, the most involved group I’ve been in.”

Chang, who is graduating early, has spent all three of her high school years in SAVE and described some of the group’s past events. Earlier in the year, SAVE invited a car accident survivor to address students about the dangers of reckless driving. Chang also said she was looking forward to World Kindness Day, on Nov. 13. As in previous years, Laney’s SAVE chapter will collect ‘little kindnesses,’ small notes with words of encouragement on them, and redistribute them around the Laney campus.

Laura Coston, 18, said these kinds of activities — small and large, fun and serious — are important because they take place locally.

Coston, who has been with SAVE for two years, said “we do try to involve the community, and be involved in the community, as much as possible. But a lot of what we do is right here on campus. That’s SAVE’s message, preventing violence by getting students to talk to their peers.”

Coston echoed Chang in saying, “the meetings are important. Every month national SAVE has a different topic we can address. And also, if something is happening here in the school, whether it’s teen driving or bullying, we can react to it and address it.”

Beth Scheirer, who has advised the SAVE chapter for a decade, said the students spoke well for themselves and their group, adding only “I hope that it always is a beacon of peace for our school community and our larger community.”