Madison, MacArthur students change world in their own way

Students help underprivileged people, people with disabilities

By David Sears - Anchor/Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - While the Madison and MacArthur High School football teams battle on the gridiron Friday, students in both schools are also waging a battle in their classrooms to make a difference in their communities and across the world.

This is the second year that 17 Agriculture Science students at Madison are doing what they can to help visually-impaired people.

The students are responsible for raising puppies to be guide dogs for the blind. 

"I have matured greatly," said Katie Hunt, who is training a dog named Kilby.

The pups are with their handlers 24/7. Where the students go, the puppies go.

"(It's) basically a package deal," said Katherine Juhl, a junior at Madison.

The dogs even go out on dates.

"If I am dating someone, you have to like the dog, you have to be able to like the dog for anything to work out," Hunt said.

The dog also follows their handlers to class.

The program is based in California. Madison is the only school in San Antonio affiliated with the West Coast organization. After about 18 months, the dogs head back home for more training.

While they are at Madison, the puppies get the training and love and affection they need. The pups also inspire the students who are caring for them.

Juhl has a personal reason for wanting to be a puppy raiser. She has a family member with a disability.

"Helping someone who kind of has a disability means a lot to me, it comes from a personal background," Juhl said. "So I think it is a great program that is changing someone's life at the age of 16."

Students at MacArthur are reaching for the same goal. Steven Davidson's gifted and talented English class is more than just nouns and predicates. The students are learning how to change their world in a couple of different ways.

Davidson has students looking in-depth into the plight of countries whose residents experience starvation and persecution.

The students are divided into groups studying countries from North Korea to Somalia. 

"We have the South Sudan, and I didn't even know that the problem was this big until we started working on it," said Ashton Woods, a MacArthur senior.

"This program definitely opens my eyes to the rest of the world," said Ryan Ramirez, a MacArthur senior.

The students are not just studying. They have become pen pals with students in Africa and send them items like school supplies. 

Learning how to help those countries is also impacting the way the MacArthur students help their own neighborhoods.

The students spend countless hours tutoring youngsters and a local elementary school and even teaching English to refugees.

"All the hardships they have to go through, it just opens my eyes to everything, and I am not in my own little bubble anymore," Ramirez said.

"It definitely teaches that everyone has a different story and it's really important," Woods said.

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