The inscription above Highland Park High School’s main entrance reads, “Enter to learn go forward to serve.” Few students embody that spirit more than senior student council president Maddie Basso, who led fundraising efforts in September and October to help Louisiana high schools devastated by historic flooding.
“Everyone at our school really enjoys supply drives and reaching out to communities that are in need,” Basso said.
Each HPHS student is required to complete at least 50 hours of community service before they can graduate. Last year’s seniors worked more than 70,000 hours, an average of nearly 146 per student in the class of 481.
The Louisiana fundraiser got off to a slow start when it was announced during homecoming week. Basso and others on the council helped spread the word by putting up posters in school, emailing parents, and posting messages on the senior student Facebook page.
Teacher and student council advisor John Hinton said the student council is always talking about ways to help the school and the community. He floated the idea of helping flood victims after receiving an email from the director of the Texas Association of Student Councils. His Louisiana counterpart had identified four schools that were desperate for new supplies. Basso said she and the council felt it was time to do something.
“I know that so many people give back in this community,” she said. “Why not follow through with this?”
This is the second consecutive year Basso has helped lead a major fundraiser. Last year, she spearheaded efforts to raise money for the Gifts for Life Club. Proceeds benefited the One Million for Anna Foundation, which honors Basso’s cousin who died of cancer a few years ago. More than $8,000 was raised to purchase supplies for kids at Children’s Medical Center.
Basso has served on the student council since eighth grade. She was her freshman class representative, and the council secretary during her sophomore and junior years. Hinton said he can usually identify a student in their freshman or sophomore with the potential to be class president.
“She was the one I could tell had ‘it,” he said.
This past summer, Basso worked for a month at the Momentous Institute in Oak Cliff. The experience inspired her to pursue a career in education.
This semester, Basso is interning at Bradfield Elementary School for her former third grade teacher.
For the rest of her senior year, Basso is working with the student council on a racism forum that will take place next semester. She is also actively involved with Project Purple, an initiative aimed at reducing underage drinking.
“I love being busy. I feel like I’m the most productive and successful when I have a hundred things to do at once,” Basso said “It keeps me occupied and I love it. I don’t know what I would if I just sat at home and watched TV.”