Student story: BASIC connects high school students with the community

Belleville Achieves Strength in Character, otherwise known as BASIC, is the name of an organization here at Belleville West High School. It is a group focused on creating unity in the community with supervisors Molly Hepp, Ashley Mernick and Jonathan Thurston, who are all teachers at West.

The organization is made up of about 18 students from Belleville West and a total of 48 including Belleville East and Althoff. BASIC is also focused on connecting high school students with the community.

Members in BASIC attend city hall meetings, adult board meetings and various events to ensure that students’ voices are heard in the city of Belleville.

BASIC organizes Character Blitz Week and the Teeter-Totter-a-Thon at West, but many of the activities occur throughout the community.

This past December, BASIC worked with graduates of the Bridges program who are now supported by the Living Independently Now Center, commonly known as LINC. The members of BASIC went shopping for Christmas presents with them and then helped them wrap their present at Buffalo Wild Wings while they ate dinner together.

This activity allowed these graduates to surprise their family on Christmas morning. BASIC also visited 11 first-grade classrooms to read them a book about character. Afterwards, they did an activity with cookies to help them better understand the lesson.

All of the activities that BASIC does are volunteer-based.

“It is always my hope that the work of BASIC members and of any other of our groups that volunteer can have the ripple effect on others. That they would see what a difference one person can make and get involved in serving their community as well,” Hepp said.

During Character Blitz Week this year on Feb. 25, BASIC will be hosting its first annual Belleville West Day of Service where 10 of the school’s organizations will be working in the community that day.

Many of the positive effects that BASIC provides can be seen trough its members by the lessons they are taking away from their experiences.

“The thing I most enjoy about being a BASIC member is the fact that we get the chance to show people to not be afraid of themselves, and also how we work hard to make our community a better place for everyone,” said Cassie Papproth, a BASIC member and sophomore at West.