NHS participates in a tent city

Abi Bartusek, Writer

National Honor Society President Anna Schellin and Secretary Sophia Metzdorff were on a walk one day when they came up with the idea to bring awareness to homelessness by sleeping outside of the school in boxes. They took the idea to a National Honor Society executive board meeting and both their fellow peers and advisor, Matthew Stendsrud, thought it would be a great idea.

And so it began. The executive board started by reaching out to local businesses to sponsor the project. They also asked for donations of cardboard boxes for the students to sleep in. In the end, Hyvee, Coborn’s, and Kubes furniture supplied boxes for students to use. The monetary donations went to buying supplies for care packages for homeless people around the community. Students participating in Tent City were encouraged to raise money for homelessness by asking friends and family to sponsor them. 

With all of the preparation complete, it was finally time to sleep outside. Students arrived at New Prague High School at 7 pm. They began by setting up their boxes and tents. The school yard right outside of Stendsrud’s door was filled. The students taped and finagled their boxes into something that they could sleep in at least a little comfortably. After setup was completed, they headed into Strendsrud’s classroom where they put together care packages for the homeless. They included soap, a toothbrush, toothpaste, and deodorant, and the students decorated the outside of the bag and created a card to put on the inside. After completing the care packages, the students played a simulation game called “Play Spent.” This game resembled what it may be like to be homeless. The students played it and tried to get through one month of being homeless. They had to make the tough decisions that a homeless person may have to make on a daily basis. The students were successful, but they knew that they might not ever fully understand how it feels to be homeless. To close the night, the students played dodgeball in the wrestling room. This was a good team-building activity in which everyone could participate. 

After playing dodgeball, the students got ready for bed. They were allowed to come inside if they needed to use the restroom or warm up for a while. The students tried to stay warm in the brisk Minnesota cold. 

NHS Secretary, Sophia Metzdorff, said “I did not sleep very well, and it was a very hard experience. I could manage sleeping outside for one night, but I cannot imagine having to do it every night. I also think it would be extremely difficult with jobs and work to have to sleep outside every night.” 

Emily McCarthy, a student participating in the event, said, “I slept fine, but there was not much personal space which made it hard, even just for the night.” 

After the night was over the students headed inside to get ready for the school day in the high school bathrooms. The students got ready and were given oatmeal and hot chocolate for breakfast. Due to the low amount of sleep the students got, they were all extremely tired. The students still went to school as normal and tried to make it through the day as best they could. A lot of the students said it was hard to learn and focus with the lack of sleep they had gotten. 

This was an experience that made an impact on many of the students’ lives. They could see what it is like for homeless people, and how lucky they truly are to not have to live in these conditions every day.