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Vista students compete shark-tank style

By: Rachel Zirin, Senior Reporter
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Vista del Lago High School student teams competed for a $5,000 grant to help better serve the Folsom community and the winner has been announced.

Team Nice Tice took home the big check Monday evening, Dec. 11, after the awards ceremony.

On Dec. 8, through the school investment initiative project, three student teams in Vista teacher Janice Johnson’s peer leadership class presented their projects in front of a panel of community leaders, including Folsom City Councilman Roger Gaylord, Intel Vice President Dave Aubin, SAFE Federal Credit Union Community and Advocacy Engagement Manager Amanda Merz, FCUSD Superintendent Dr. Sarah Koligian and FCUSD school board member Sarah Aquino. 

The projects presented would benefit Powerhouse Ministries, local special-needs youth, and the money-raising capacity for three local nonprofit agencies.

The three teams discussed how they would use the privately donated grant money to benefit the Folsom community or a local non-profit organization. The teams broke it down by their mission, goals, appropriation of funds, and how their project would make a positive impact.

After their presentations, the panel of community leaders asked questions, requiring the teams to think on their feet.

Johnson said after tallying up the scores, while all the teams were very close, Nice Tice’s project came in on top.

“We took old parking meters with the change and the ticking clock, and we adapted them into donation meters,” said Andrea Barba, a senior on Team Nice Tice. “What we are going to do is label them with three different non-profits. When you put change inside the donation meters, the big bright beautiful donation meters, it’s going to say ‘thank you’ instead of a ticking clock. It’ll say ‘thank you for your support’ and have a little description of what the non-profit is.”

The meters will be decorated in bright and vibrant colors, unlike normal parking meters. Barba said they plan to do this to help people tell the difference between the timed and donation meters.

For the time being, the team plans to work with business owners such as Visconti’s, Jersey Mike’s, Chicago Fire and more on having the donations inside the businesses until they are able to install meters on the Folsom streets.

The three organizations benefiting from this project are 3Stands Global, Folsom’s Hope, and Powerhouse Ministries.

Nice Tice was made up of Andrea Barba, Colton Casella, Netashia deBruyn, Justin Howard, Elliot Montbriand and Lauren Tice.

Johnson said she would always hear her students say that they didn’t have a voice or a pathway to make a difference in the community, but they wanted to. Her goal was to give the students the opportunity to have a role in the community and show them they can make a difference.

Only three-and-a-half weeks ago, Johnson had speakers from local non-profits and the city come to her class and talk about what they do and how they could be better supported to serve the community. After, the students chose an organization, and from there, they worked together making calls, getting estimates, and getting support.

“There was a lot of real world experience of having to actually do work, like they would if they had a job out in the real world right now,” Johnson said. “It was really great for them to experience not actually just having an idea, but seeing it through and putting it together, and the frustrations that go with it. They also learned a lot of creative and problem-solving skills.”

Barba said a highlight throughout the entire project was being able to call the organizations and tell them their team was picked for the project.

“Folsom’s Hope, 3Stands, and Powerhouse Ministries just expressed what great of an opportunity it was for them,” Barba said. “We didn’t even think about how excited they would be, we just knew we would have satisfaction and help them.”