Valley Voices

Getting out of their ‘comfort zone,’ Central High students tally 1,000 hours of community service

Central High School Cultural Arts Interact Club members Kelsey Moore, left, and Kiana Tsudama help spruce up Shinzen Japanese Garden at Woodward Park.
Central High School Cultural Arts Interact Club members Kelsey Moore, left, and Kiana Tsudama help spruce up Shinzen Japanese Garden at Woodward Park. Special to The Bee

On the third Monday of every month, you can find Central High School-West Campus senior Hasan Amjad volunteering at Central Community Church.

As a member of the Cultural Arts Interact Club of Central High School, Hasan and others spend their time to help others.

“I have learned that the more you give than receive the happier you will be, which is why I and others enjoy coming back to this club,” Amjad said.

More than 300 students from Central High’s Interact Club have spent time gardening at Shinzen Japanese Garden, distributing food at Central Community Church, or putting on a Winteract Wonderland for patients at Valley Children’s Hospital.

Robert Perez, Principal of Central High School, says, “I have observed and heard from Interact students that the focus is less on the tasks they complete and more about what they are learning and how that can have a positive impact on the community and school. They are focused on what kinds of lessons they can learn intrinsically.”

For many students, the club not only provides a venue for them to participate in civic engagement, it also pushes them out of their comfort zone as they are working with others that that they typically might not associate with.

“It [Interact] has brought me closer to people I would have never talked to on my own,’’ said sophomore, Alexey Mazon. “Interact not only taught me the importance of giving but also the importance of getting out of my comfort zone.”

The students feel that Interact is not just a club of volunteers, but a family that has committed a major part of their lives devoted to the well-being of others. As a part of the club, students have also been able to extend that family atmosphere to the Rotarians of their sponsoring club, the Cultural Arts Rotary Club (CARC) of Fresno.

I have learned that the more you give than receive the happier you will be, which is why I and others enjoy coming back to this club.

Central High senior Hasan Amjad

“They’re [Rotarians] very encouraging, really relatable and inspiring,” senior Maddie Robinson said. “During my freshman year, they offered to help me when I thought I wanted to pursue a career in law by partnering me with someone who worked downtown.”

The partnership with CARC and the Interactors is very special. Interact members are invited to attend meetings with the Rotarians at Arte Americas to provide updates regarding events, solicit donations and stay connected with the sponsoring club. CARC also holds one of their meetings in the Library Media Center at Central High School’s East Campus annually as Read Across America is celebrated.

Central Interact students partake in various community service projects around the city of Fresno. The volunteers have provided nearly 1,000 hours this year.

“Being an E-Board member of Central West Interact has allowed me to explore the city of Fresno in meaningful ways with the friends that I love,” said junior Sophie Jimenez, who has helped out at Central Unified’s Community Fun Run, Fresno Chaffee’s Zoo Boo and other events. “All of these wonderful experiences have made me grateful for what I have and how important it is to give back to my community.”

Mark Sutton is superintendent of Central Unified School District.

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