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Carlmont Cares program welcomes foster and homeless students

Facing+frequent+location+transfers%2C+foster+children+often+are+able+to+fit+all+of+their+belongings+within+a+suitcase.
Facing frequent location transfers, foster children often are able to fit all of their belongings within a suitcase.

Facing frequent location transfers, foster children often are able to fit all of their belongings within a suitcase.

Mandy Hitchcock

Mandy Hitchcock

Facing frequent location transfers, foster children often are able to fit all of their belongings within a suitcase.

Mandy Hitchcock, Staff Writer

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In just one day you lose your bedroom, home, parents, friends, and the neighborhood you grew up in.

Now put that day on repeat.

The National Foster Youth Institute records that 33 percent of foster children change elementary schools at least five or more times in their lives.

Foster and homeless children alike face challenges every time they wake up in the morning. Whether placed in such a situation by financial need or lack of guardianship, securing an education is often the last thing on their minds.

Senior Anastasia Adams* had lived between Russia and parts of southern Europe as a result of her dad’s business until she moved to California in the ninth grade.

The unavailability of a permanent home required Adams’ grandmother to home-school her, working around the time she was not caring for Adams’ siblings. Enrolling at Carlmont was thus met with some initial troubles.

“It hurts when people look at me differently — why can’t we respect each others’ business?” Adams said. “I would want Carlmont to be more accepting towards those who are from a different country, to understand that they have their own difficulties and to not judge them based on that.”

Keiko Smith helps explain the Human Relations Commission's desire to further their Carlmont Cares program.

Naturally, coming to school five days a week is perceived more as a chore rather than an opportunity, not to mention the loss of time necessary to receive a full education.

However, the ASB Human Relations Commission has taken it upon themselves to change that perception here at Carlmont.

“We want everyone to be part of the school and community to at least have the information and resources to enjoy Carlmont,” said Maddie Standlee, the supervisor of the commission.

Adams now finds herself living with her father and siblings, sure of some stability. However, her mother, who she has not seen in seven years, and her grandmother are still unable to enter the U.S.

“What was most difficult was not being able to see my mom or have friends to talk to. And every time I made friends, I would have to leave them, for I traveled so often,” Adams said.

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Previous PTSA president and commission’s advisor Keiko Smith approached ASB with the foundations of this program of hopes of partnering with them.

“The program works to make our fellow students feel welcome and part of our community,” Smith said. “We want to be able to offer our hearts, though people don’t have to take it; sometimes you have to be in a place to feel comfortable receiving.”

Thus, Carlmont Cares was born, distributing spirited packages and a sense of welcome to foster, homeless, and financially challenged students.

However, still in the early stages of development, the program encounters challenges in securing stable funding and working around the required anonymity of the youth. Terri Plack is part of the administration supporting the outreach of the program.

“It can be hard because the kids move so much and we can’t keep a database since it’s anonymous. We have to check with Plack before every project and distribution can also lead to miscommunication,” Standlee said. “But it’s just something we have to work around.”

When the Human Relations commision walked into Principal Ralph Crame’s office just before lunch on March 23, they looked towards strengthening their program and opening communications with the district. This way, they could begin to introduce and expand such services to other high schools across the Bay Area.

“Hearing how the program impacts the kids’ lives makes all the work so worth it. Those who have been skipping class at old schools suddenly show up everyday — it can just completely change someone’s experience,” Standlee said.

Alongside the steps taken to improve Carlmont’s community, Adams has also persevered despite her hardships.

“I know everyone has a different outlook on life, but even if the circumstances look bad and you are left with nothing, you should do something you love because what you are good at you can teach to others,” Adams said. “It will not always be bad, as there will always be someone to help you — things will get better.”

*To preserve the anonymity of this student, their name has been changed.

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About the Contributor
Mandy Hitchcock, Staff Writer

Mandy is currently a junior at Carlmont High School. Apart from running, music, and homework, she spends her free time playing with her dog and going out with friends. Her favorite place to be with family is at the beach.

Check out her portfolio at: https://mandyanne.weebly.com/

Facebook: Mandy Hitchcock

Twitter: @mandyannne

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The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.
Carlmont Cares program welcomes foster and homeless students