Two student groups from the Academy of Math, Engineering and Science joined forces to organize a 5K run to promote health awareness and raise money for Salt Lake Donated Dental Services.
"We just wanted to get the school gathered together for community service," said senior Alina Tran, who is president of one the groups involved, AMES HOSA.
HOSA, or Health Occupation Students of America, is a nationwide student organization for those interested in careers in health care. For Tran, a 5K run is a perfect opportunity for HOSA to promote healthy living.
"I feel like people are too busy with their lives that they don't think they have the time to take care of themselves," she said.
Participants showed up on a cool, breezy afternoon in late April for the 5K run, paid $10 a person and received a T-shirt. The course took them across the street from Cottonwood High School, where AMES is located, through a neighborhood to Woodstock Meadows Park and back to the school.
The other student group involved is AMES Interact Club, which was founded by senior Stephanie Velasco two years ago.
"It makes me feel really good when something like that is happening," Velasco said. "We're raising money for dental care, which is a need and a part of your health."
Salt Lake Donated Dental Services is an organization that seeks to give dental care to disadvantaged people. Tran and Velasco said they considered different charity groups, but they chose the dental service because the HOSA adviser had a connection there, and it was a lesser-known organization.
Velasco founded the Interact Club to unite her fellow students in helping anyone in need.
She wants the 5K run to provide lasting memories for the participants.
"We hope that everybody realizes what they're part of in this cause, that everyone goes home with a smile on their face and realize they can help others," she said.
Velasco and her officers had some doubts about organizing the 5K because it seemed like such a big task.
"We really weren't sure if it would happen," she said. "But once it got going, we finally got to say, 'Oh my gosh, it's really happening.'"
The student groups received a $100 grant from the Utah Federation For Youth; AMES was one of four schools chosen to receive the money, which went toward the 5K and the stomp.
The students also raised money by selling muffins at the school in the morning and during lunch hours.
"It helped with our communicating skills," Tran said. "We became salesmen."
AMES is a public charter school aimed at advanced curriculum beyond regular high school levels. Because students come from other regions than Cottonwood Heights, time for extracurricular activity is limited.
Another factor that the school has to be conscious about is cost because students come from diverse socioeconomic situations.
Martha Taylor, AMES Community Connected Learning Coordinator and HOSA adviser, said she is impressed with the students' effort, especially how the two groups came together with a clear purpose.
"I think it's fabulous because the students came to me and said, 'We want to do this,'" Taylor said. "The best thing about a student-coordinated event is they're really committed to it."
After the 5K run, participants enjoyed refreshment and a stomp with music provided by the band Mystique, which features AMES students in Spy Hop, a non-profit education center focused on media arts.
"It gave them some exposure and gave us great entertainment," Taylor said.
Stretching their resources and showing further goodwill, AMES students donated some of the money earned from the fundraiser to Mestizo Arts and Activism, a program led by a former teacher, Matt Bradley, who died in March. He was an associate professor and lecturer in the University of Utah Honors College and taught honors classes at AMES.
Tran is appreciative of the effort and interest her AMES community has shown, whether in the 5K or helping elsewhere.
"I feel very thankful to have this group of people that are interested in community service and getting together for a bigger cause," she said. "I'm thankful to have an AMES family."