There's a very special closet at Alonso High School.
It isn't packed with books and boxes. And you won't find cleaning supplies or wall hangings from years ago.
It is the Ravens Closet, named after the Alonzo mascot. It is about giving.
The closet was started by the Alonso Leadership Class, a group of 15 students that get together every day to discuss ways to make their school and community a better place. It is run by teacher Carey DiPompo, but the students, mostly seniors, have a big say in what goes on and comes out of the Leadership Class.
Inside the closet are some very personal items donated by the kids at Alonso. There are used prom dresses, homecoming dresses, and many other things that some of the more underprivileged kids at Alonso can use without having to break the bank for such special occasions.
However, there is one rule when it comes to the Ravens Closet: the recipient cannot know who donated the dress or outfit. There is a small concern that, if the recipient knows who donated it, then it might be uncomfortable. The Alonso kids aren't looking for thanks. They just want to give something back to the community and their fellow students.
“These kids are amazing,” DiPompo said. “They are always coming up with things to do. Everybody in this room is all in this together. We are doing things for the community and it's all about this class.”
As for the students, one possible motive is to change how the community perceives high school students.
“We aren't just a group of kids,” said senior Rachel Gerovac. “We do all kinds of things with this class. We are into anti-bullying and we do things that aren't really all about the holidays. We work hard all year.”
For Veterans Day, the Alonso students hosted a special breakfast and had almost 300 students show up for a blood drive. Other times, the kids in the Leadership Class — 14 girls and one boy — volunteer for community events and also plan Homecoming and Senior Prom. Daniel Riley, the only male Leadership Class member, has a lot of input into what the girls are putting together and his input is appreciated.
“Being the only guy is interesting,” he said. “But sometimes they ask me how a guy would feel about doing a certain project and I give them an honest answer. They usually listen.”
DiPompo said her run as the head of the Leadership Club is just about over, but she is looking forward to the day when all of her former students can get together and reflect on what they accomplished at Alonso.
“It's a special school and I am proud of what this class has accomplished,” she said. “Every time I think about the Ravens Closet, I know something special is going on here.”