Student council hosts annual school supplies drive


Gloria Zhu

A gray backpack, markers, and other miscellaneous school supplies sit in the corner of upper school math teacher Bradley Stoll’s classroom. The contents of each donated backpack usually vary depending on the items and quantity of items that are donated.

by Gloria Zhu, Reporter

In the corner of upper school math teacher Bradley Stoll’s classroom, there is a heather gray backpack, brand new, the tag still on. Inside, one can find markers, pencils, and a brand new Five Star™ notebook. These supplies, donated by members of the Stoll advisory, will eventually be loaded onto a bus, with countless other backpacks, to be donated to underprivileged students in a nearby school.

From March 11 to March 20, student council hosted their second annual backpack drive at Harker. Advisories that participated were given wish lists of school-related items, ranging from journals to soccer balls, and were asked to fill a backpack with the donated supplies. Student council and Kerry Enzensperger, Director of Upper School Community Service and Student Activities Coordinator, load, organize, and bring the donations to a local organization called Alum Rock Counseling Center, which, according to its website, was founded to “address the academic, social and mental health needs of the at-risk youth and families living in the extremely high-need area of East San José.” Then, the organization distributes them to students in need in Ocala STEAM Academy. This is student council’s second year organizing the drive, and planning for the drive started in early January.

“They gave us a variety of dates to choose from, because they wanted us to go and deliver the supplies during one of their mentoring sessions when they have all the kids that would receive the donations together, ”explained lead organizer of the effort and senior class treasurer Andrea Simonian (12).

This year, the wish list of items expanded to cover a wider breadth of items.

“[It’s] a lot more extensive this year because it includes not only school supplies but also extracurricular supplies, so there’s a whole bunch of stuff that’s just for their general enjoyment, extra stuff to make them happy students — baking kits, basketballs, jump ropes, things like that,” said Andrea.

Advisories were free to organize and divvy up item-bringing responsibilities among themselves, and many advisors were enthusiastic to participate as well.

Gloria Zhu
Donated items sit on a table in math teacher Bhaswati Ganguli’s room. Last year, the first year of the drive, pencils were the most commonly donated item.

“I think it’s a great thing,” Stoll said. “There are a lot of kids in this area who don’t have what everyone here has, including what I have, so I think anything that will help them to be more engaged in school is certainly a good thing.”

The students of Ocala, just a mere 14 minutes from the upper school campus, undergo a very different schooling experience than those of Harker.

“There are quite a few socioeconomically disadvantaged communities in San Jose,” said Andrea. “It was really appalling to me that students so close to us could be so disadvantaged, especially in terms of school supplies, which are things that we consider to be daily necessities, but are luxuries to them.”

The drive is dedicated to bringing better schooling experiences towards these underprivileged students in the area, through better supplies and resources.

“It is a wonderful, wonderful idea and needs to be promoted and supported, and I loved this backpack drive — I do feel that children that do not have access to these resources and supplies can become more creative and more productive in their education once they have the necessary supplies,” math teacher Bhaswati Ganguli said.