ProjectU club starts up at Bearden, hopes to positively impact school environment


ProjectU sponsor Mrs. Kristen Heffern and founder Kristy Dean meet to make plans for the future of the club.

Olivia Hailey, News Editor

Bearden has several clubs dedicated to helping others, and another one has just been added to the list. ProjectU, a county-wide program, has just made its appearance at Bearden, mostly thanks to principal Mrs. Debbie Sayers and senior Kristy Dean.

“I learned about it through the Knox County Student Advisory Council and thought that Bearden should have one,” Dean said. “When I talked to Mrs. Sayers about it, she was really excited because Central High School, where she worked at previously, has a very large and active ProjectU.”

Added sponsor Mrs. Kristin Heffern: “Mrs. Sayers was the one who brought it to everyone’s attention that we did not have an active ProjectU, that we were the only high school that didn’t have a ProjectU. She had seen that it had done great things when she was at Central.”

Dean approached Mrs. Heffern to be the sponsor, and Mrs. Heffern was eager and excited to take the job. 

“I’ve always tried to get the library to be a place of goodwill and where people feel comfortable and where people can feel like they belong, and so I thought that would just be kind of an extension of what I do at the library,” Mrs. Heffern said. 

The purpose of ProjectU is to make everyone at Bearden feel included and to create a friendlier environment on campus. 

“We want to improve campus culture, improve school spirit, and foster kindness in the classrooms and beyond,” Mrs. Heffern said. “It’s supposed to make school a happier and better place for everybody.” 

Added Dean: “Our focus is on the social climate of the school and simple things to improve it. The overall goal of the club is to cultivate campus culture. Obviously, this could mean a lot of things.

“We are hoping to help students either look forward to school a little more or dread it a little less.”

Every month, they will work on a different project surrounding a theme given to all Knox County schools with a ProjectU club by the Knox County School Health Specialist Ramona Dew. Before moving to a downtown position, Dew was the original sponsor of the first ProjectU club after the idea was brought to her by some students. 

October’s theme was kindness, November’s theme is gratitude, and December’s theme will be giving. 

“Right now, we’re working on a project for Thanksgiving so that people will feel that they are appreciated and loved and part of the community of Bearden before they leave for Thanksgiving,” Mrs. Heffern said. 

Added Dean: “Since it’s still in the works, I won’t reveal too much, but I can tell you that it involves turkeys, colorful leaves, and a whole lot of thankfulness.”

The club’s first meeting was last week, and they will meet on Mondays at 3:45 in the Maker Space in the library. They are looking for new members and encourage anyone to join. 

“The great thing about ProjectU is that there’s no requirements for joining,” Mrs. Heffern said. “Anyone can join, and the more diversity we have in the club, the better, because Bearden doesn’t all look the same, so we want people who represent the whole breadth and depth of Bearden.”

Although the club has just come to life at Bearden, it hopes to leave its mark on the student body. 

“I hope that [our members] see that even though we’re a small little club that just started, that one person could make a big difference for others,” Mrs. Heffern said.