Fire Within Wins National Award

The Fire Within club poses with Principal Imbusch and their national award.

The Fire Within club poses with Principal Imbusch and their national award.

Devin McKinney

The Fire Within club poses with Principal Imbusch and their national award.
The Fire Within club poses with Principal Imbusch and their national award.

The Fire Within group at Walpole High School is a suicide prevention club focused on bringing awareness to the validity of students’ mental health. The program is a national organization that trains students on how to recognize signs that their peers may be in a dangerous mental place or perhaps contemplating suicide. On Dec. 15, 2015 the students involved in Walpole High’s Fire Within program were recognized nationally for their participation in a social entrepreneurship competition in which they created a planner designed to promote efficient time management—something most, if not all, high schoolers struggle with.

Walpole High School is in the top one percent across the state for both graduation rate (98.9%) and attendance rate (97%), and Charles Ferro—the staff adviser for the Fire Within club—believes that these high percentages are due to increased amounts of stress in students.

“Students say that in order to achieve [high statistics] kids have a lot of pressure on themselves,” said Ferro. “[That’s why the club decided] time management would be a really good thing to study and look at.”

To ameliorate the problem of time management, the students involved in the group created a planner that has all of the components of a regular notebook, but also features motivational quotes as well as places to take down notes about weekly goals.

Last year, the Fire Within planner won a statewide competition involving other Fire Within groups that were assigned the task of creating something to lower stress levels in students. WHS’s group went up against three other schools in Massachusetts and won first place with a prize of $500, which was used to make and distribute planners to Walpole’s class of 2019.

This year, however, the planner was entered into a national competition that recognizes first-year competitors in the social entrepreneurship competition. Walpole High’s Fire Within participants won first prize again; however, this time they beat out schools from across the country—one of those schools being Columbine High School, which came in second place.

As previously stated, the club was recognized on Dec. 15 in an after-school ceremony during PLC. At the ceremony, Sarah Gaer—Fire Within leader and suicide prevention specialist—presented the students with a placard that serves as a reminder of their social entrepreneurship victory.