Starkville Academy sophomore Claire Vickers spends hours a week helping students in her school.
“Last October, our counselor Jamie Elliot told me there was a new foreign student, and she wanted me to help her,” Vickers recalled. “When I met her, I was just in shock because she hardly spoke any English, and I just couldn’t imagine coming to a foreign country and not knowing how to speak their language.”
Vickers quickly met foreign transfer student Vicky Sun, and began to make it her mission to help acclimate Vicky to life in America.
“I was empathetic for her because I went to France a few years ago with my family, and even though I spoke a little bit of French, and I was with my family, I still felt completely lost, so I could only imagine how Vicky was feeling,” Vickers said. “I tried to put myself in her shoes and just really treat people how I would want to be treated — I know that sounds corny, but that’s what I tired to do.”
To help Vicky in class, Vickers would take notes, type them out and then input them into a computer program that translated the content for Vicky.
“I would go back and then highlight the things she needed to know,” Vickers said.
Vickers would also proof read all Vicky’s homework assignments, and she even introduced Vicky to her friends and eventually got her interested in the band, where Vicky met even more friends.
“She has a kind nature and is willing to help others. She is extremely dedicated, helping our foreign students and our transfer students,” Teacher Barb Adkins said. “She spends numerous hours weekly helping them in many ways with their school work and also in adjusting to a new school and country.”
This year, SA welcomed two more foreign students, and Vickers selflessly took it upon herself to reach out to those students as well.
Though Vickers didn’t help her fellow students for the praise, she was extremely touched when she went to proof read an essay Vicky had written but didn’t tell Vickers the topic of the essay that said: “Claire became my best friend at this school. Claire helped me a lot in studies... I am so thankful for her. In my mind, she is my best friend. I cannot imagine how I could face anything without her help.”
Vickers is a member of her high school band where she plays first chair trumpet and is on her school’s dance team. She is also a member of the National Honor Society and was voted most outstanding and hardest worker by her fellow classmates.