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Photo Courtesy of Brian Williams

The Pay it Forward class poses for a picture at Out Side In, a local mental health facility that uses animals to treat patients.

Pay it Forward seniors get creative in the midst of COVID-19 outbreak

May 8, 2020

It’s no secret that COVID-19 has messed up a lot of people’s plans, but little did senior Tahlia Lehmann and Sam Hager know it would flip the Pay it Forward projects around 180 degrees.

“We had to change our project,” Hager said. “We will not be able to do our original project and we’re still not 100 percent sure what the new one is going to look like. We’re probably going to have to wait until summer to do anything,” 

Both Lehmann and Hager spoke highly of teacher Brian Williams. 

“I miss Bdubs,” Lehmann said. “He is an inspirational teacher for all of us. Every day in class, he would just give us some type of speech and we learned so much about empathy and compassion and his not being able to be present in the classroom and I miss that.” 

Since many Pay it Forward projects are typically conducted in person, groups have struggled to come up with alternate projects, but Lehmann and her group mates were able to find a way to conduct their project virtually. 

“We made Bingo boards and a video just to talk about the Children’s Advocacy Center and posted it,” Lehmann said. “We posted the Bingo boards on our Instagram stories because we felt like people could donate whatever but just putting it out there might encourage people during this time and it was pretty successful. We also use Facebook as a platform, and our parents did. But we did the best Instagram, which was exciting.”

The essential lessons in Pay it Forward revolve around empathy and compassion. These are lessons these seniors will take with them for the rest of their lives and hope next year’s seniors take full advantage of in this class. 

“Next year’s students should start thinking of a project early,” Hager said. “I think, as the biggest struggle with our group obviously is if we had our project earlier and got rolling quicker and started talking to more people we might have still been able to do our project. Having a Plan B would have definitely helped and we had no idea this was gonna happen. So they should really consider that.” 

Project aside, they just want the next class to fully take in the experiences Pay it Forward has to offer. 

“Absorb everything and let yourself think beyond what’s going on in your life,” Lehmann said. “If you go to the presentations and listen to these people and you don’t soak it in then get out of this class. Paying attention to what’s going on in your community and thinking beyond yourself is a huge thing to learn about when trying to teach compassion. It is truly inspiring and you will take it with you beyond this class.”

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