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Gifted students at Roswell High create plan to help homeless

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From left, Aryin Brown, Santana Madrid, Randy Lykins, Breanna Sanchez, Stephen Eldred and Anthony Fajardo plan for their presentation for the city of Roswell addressing homelessness. This project is part of the freshman gifted class at Roswell High School. (Alison Penn Photo)

A gifted seminar class at Roswell High School (RHS) is formulating a solution for locals facing homelessness.

Five freshmen, Anthony Fajardo, Stephen Eldred, Breanna Sanchez, Santana Madrid and Aryin Brown met with the Daily Record on April 12 to discuss their in-progress project. The group also listed that Sophia Bautista, Zane O’Connor and Moniquea Aragon were additional members of their class.

Through research that began at the beginning of the school year, Sanchez explained the group’s idea of the city running a centralized intake center. She explained further that the intake center is a location that would offer services and programs to help homeless individuals to “get on the right track.”

Sanchez defined homeless as a person “without a home or close to being without a home” and described the city’s current homeless situation as a visible “crisis.”

Randy Lykins, who oversees the gifted program and some advanced placement classes at RHS, explained further that the center would have an intake form for record-keeping and identification purposes to help the homeless in a focused way.

Once the group chose their project, Sanchez said each student was assigned topics for research and these topics included shelters in Roswell, Fort Worth’s Clean Slate program, legalities and intake centers.

In the Clean Slate program, Brown said homeless people have an option to earn $8-$10 an hour to clean up trash in the city. Brown said Forth Worth’s Clean Slate program costs $48,000 for start-up.

Madrid said the project’s goal is “shelter and safety” for homeless people and is similar to the Clean Slate program’s mission.

“We just want a single place in Roswell where someone can walk in and say they’re homeless,” Sanchez said. “We’ll help them by interviewing them, and then sending them to maybe a shelter that would help them, and get them services and then into the Clean Slate program where they’ll get paid to pick up trash in Roswell.”

Fajardo clarified that the students will not be running the center, but rather presenting the idea to the city to consider running one. The students said Lykins has spoken with Mayor Dennis Kintigh so far.

Before the end of the semester, Sanchez said the class will present their project to the city and hear feedback in case the plan needs to change.

“There’s really nothing right now,” Sanchez said. “The city doesn’t have a number of how many homeless people there are in Roswell. So if this won’t work, we would all be willing to make something else because we know there needs to be a change.”

Pending with city approval, Sanchez said the next step would be to decide on a location for the centralized intake center and collaborate with other programs and services to assist the homeless.

When asked what they have learned about homelessness, Brown said it is a situation that originates from different reasons and struggles. Brown said helping the homeless gives “them hope for a better future.”

Sanchez said the homeless are not “dangerous people,” and “they’re us, but they just had rough times.”

Lykins described the class as a gifted seminar unique to Roswell High that specializes “in divergent thinking.” He said this class is skills-based and the students use the QUEST program to “question, understand, examine, synthesize and topical telling” for their research to eventually prepare them for post-secondary work such as presentations and writing.

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.