Students showcase Charity Outreach Projects


Photo submitted by Mark Landuyt

Seniors Josmar Osorio and Mariana Valencia present their project on The Northern Illinois Food Bank to a panel of judges.

Kayla Baltazar, News-Features/Opinion Editor

   Authentic argumentation was the goal of the Honors English 4 Charity Outreach Projects at the end of semester one. After studying effective arguments in class, seniors in Honors English 4 were able to put what they learned to practice by creating presentations representing a certain charity of their choice.

   English Teacher Mark Landuyt explained that the project was an opportunity for students to present to an authentic audience. 

   “After studying argument, we wanted an opportunity for those students to present an authentic argument right in front of an authentic audience,” said Landuyt. “With real stakes, with real implications, and with real motivation behind it– that was sort of the overarching [goal].”

   Students found a partner and chose a charity to represent, first presenting to their respective English classes. The presentations that the class voted on would end up going to the finals, where the pairs would present in front of a panel of judges to determine who the overall presentation winners were. 

   A pool of donations was created, and the winners of the presentation received the opportunity to give the donations to the charity they represented. 

   Alexandria Rios Taylor, principal of Mundelein High School, explained that she wanted to become a judge to see “the work they have done, the charities they’re supporting, the research that was embedded.”

   Ultimately, the winners of the Charity Outreach Project were Seniors Josmar Osorio and Mariana Valencia, representing the Northern Illinois Food Bank. 

   “It was pretty exciting to win, I knew that the money would directly contribute to feeding our neighbors. When I learned of all the great programs and fresh food that the food bank provides our community I knew that I had to win it for them,” Osorio said. “It really made me happy to go back to the Lake Forest location to present the check directly to the people who helped out in providing the information necessary to win.”

   Osorio and Valencia chose to represent the Northern Illinois Food Bank because it was a charity that directly helped people in Mundelein. 

   “My partner and I chose to present the Northern Illinois Food Bank,” said Valencia. “We chose the charity because it was local and it helped the neighborhoods around us.”

   Sarah Wilson, English teacher, believes that the passion Osorio and Valencia had for their charity is what made them truly stand out.

   “I think what truly made them stand out was how passionate they were,” said Wilson.

   Taylor also noted that while judging the presentations, there were certain aspects to their presentations that made the judges want to donate to their charity, stating that the “defining criteria” for the judges was that Osorio and Valencia chose a charity that “ gave a direct impact of benefit to Mundelein specifically. Not just Chicagoland, but our families, our residents [and] our students.”

   “One is that they were wearing the gear from the organization. When you’re looking at visibility– they’re all in. They’re representing the organization with pride in their dress and demeanor,” noted Taylor. “Number two is that they showed us where our money went. There was a page that provided full financial transparency, that when I donate, this is where my money goes and this is how it will contribute to our families. I had full visibility, and I could see the tangible trajectory of my money.”

   Osorio and Valencia did a lot of research into their charity– they even visited a location to see what working there was like. 

   “They did the work. They truly did the work to make the judges feel like the Northern Illinois Food Bank sort of deserved our attention,” said Landuyt. “And I think they did based on the research that they did.”

   Overall, Osorio and Valencia managed to raise 700 dollars for the Northern Illinois Food bank. The value of the groceries Northern Illinois Food Bank was able to purchase with that money equated to “2,800 dollars worth of groceries to people in need in our community,” according to Osorio.

   This project gave many students the opportunity to practice their argumentation skills while also supporting a charity that means a lot to them. Not only were the presentations and projects executed well, but a local community organization benefited by it as well. The fact that students were able to fight for an organization they cared about was awarding in the end. 

   “Their voice actually does matter, and there are effective means of speaking up and voicing your opinion that could inspire some change,” said Wilson. “I know teens get a bad rep for maybe being seen as apathetic, or not caring, but that’s not true. They do care and to choose a charity that they actually care about, whether they were connected to it or not, just to do the research and to look into the charity and represent them– I could see in all the presentations that they put in the effort because they cared.”

   If you find yourself curious about the winning charity, Osorio notes that you can make a donation to Northern Illinois Food Bank at