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DRIVEN to serve

Members of Burlington High School's DRIVEN service club ring bells and collect money for Love, Inc. outside the Burlington Walmart on Friday.

BURLINGTON — One of the groups of Burlington High School students ringing bells on particularly chilly afternoon on Friday found an entertaining way to keep warm.

One of the girls had Christmas songs playing on a small speaker. When it got to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You,” it was showtime — the girls locked arms in a kick-line that eventually dissolved into free-for-all dance party as they sang along.

It wasn’t all funny business that day. Members of the BHS service group DRIVEN (Desire, Responsibility, Inspiration, Vision, Empowerment and New Birth) rang bells at eight locations across town, raising $1,951.79 in four hours for Love Inc., the Burlington-based social services agency.

The day was split into shifts; those who weren’t ringing bells were volunteering at Arbor View Assisted Living Center, 34201 Arbor Lane, in Bohners Lake, where they decorated the residents’ doorways, worked on crafts, visited with residents and in some cases, painted their nails.

“There’s this one guy named Gary, and he loved that we decorated his door,” said junior Claire Walby. “He kept saying how it made his day.”

Training future leaders

DRIVEN adviser Matt Nie said the club was founded to make the transition into high school easier for freshmen and to reduce bullying.

Forty-three upperclassmen underwent leadership training over the summer of 2007 and lead the first Freshmen Break In, which happens in late summer and on the first day of school, and is only attended by freshmen. The upperclassmen teach the students the ins and outs of high school and lead them in team-building exercises.

“We try to make them feel like they have friends already at the high school,” said senior Emily Zuleger.

As the club has grown, so have the number of activities the group organizes every year. And as students grow in the organization, their responsibilities grow as well.

Zuleger joined the summer before her sophomore year, the first year when students can sign up. The sophomores help run the events and then the next year, when they’re juniors, they run the show by organizing the events.

Her junior year, Zuleger organized a Valentine’s Day flower sale to raise money for Love Inc. She pre-ordered the flowers from wholesalers and organized the ordering, processing and delivery.

“I really learned the importance of being organized and being really diligent and focused on my work,” said Zuleger. “You need to think of every possible detail.”

As a senior, Zuleger is acting as an adviser to the junior who is organizing this year’s flower sale.

BHS junior Megan Way, who was ringing bells outside of the Burlington Walmart on Friday is one of the organizers of this year’s special education prom in March. She volunteered during last year’s dance.

“All the kids really enjoyed it,” said Way. “I know I had so much fun and can’t wait to do it again this year.”

Giving back

DRIVEN also organizes a community Easter egg hunt, a summer clothing drive and an outreach day at middle schools, during which they teach students about empathy and integrity.

The students can also create their own projects — some have raised money for ALS, collected school supplies for American Indian reservations and organized a “Dodging Depression” dodgeball tournament to raise money for organizations that help teens. Other projects have helped veterans with post-traumatic stress syndrome, low-income families, Special Olympians, Alzheimer’s patients and victims of school shootings.

Way said DRIVEN gives students the chance to show, not only educators who tell them to get involved, but the community as a whole what they’re capable of.

“It’s a really good opportunity to show your leadership and to show what you can do,” said Way.

“It’s a really good opportunity to show your leadership and to show what you can do.” Megan Way, Burlington High junior and member of the school’s DRIVEN club


Christina Lieffring covers the Burlington area and the Village of Caledonia. Before moving to Racine, she lived in Nebraska, Beijing, Chicago and grew up in Kansas City.

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