Academic Magnet High School - North Charleston, South Carolina.


Academic Magnet High School - North Charleston, South Carolina.


Academic Magnet High School - North Charleston, South Carolina.


The Meaning Behind the Ornaments of Magnet’s Angel Tree

A detailed look into the Angel Tree community service project.

For the coming weeks leading up to winter break, if you decide to take a close look at Magnet’s tree, you will spy artfully drawn ornaments hanging that read different names of books. You might have asked yourself, “I wonder what these are for.” Cue the drumroll. That would be none other than NEHS, DAYLO, and AMLAC’s Angel Tree for Pinehurst Elementary School’s first grade class.

Some of the ornaments made for the Angel Tree.

For some context, Diversity Awareness Youth Literacy Organization (DAYLO) is a club that is new to Academic Magnet this year. Ms. Bortz is the club’s faculty advisor and the student leader is Kate Selvitelli. The DAYLO Banned Book Club’s purpose is to raise awareness of books that are being banned by the school board. The club has been very active in the Magnet and broader community as they work for this cause.

The other organization involved is the Academic Magnet Library Advisory Council (AMLAC) which is led by Dr. Russell and Camille Ross. The club’s purpose is to increase the functioning and usefulness of the library for the students and staff at Magnet. They have community service opportunities such as book drives and volunteering at YallFest. 

National English Honor Society (NEHS) was brought to Academic Magnet last year and is the first chapter in Charleston County. Chloe Carleston and I are the co-presidents, Grace Reuben is the secretary, MiChi Zheng is the treasurer, and Molly George is public relations officer. Mrs. Lankford and Dr. Hay are the advisors for this Honor Society. They meet once a month and students are admitted based on their performance in past English classes and teacher recommendations. The club has around 35 very talented members that are proficient in all things English. At many of the meetings poetry, authored by the members, is read aloud. The members are avid lovers of literature and often have demands to meet more frequently. 

Recipients of NEHS book drive last year for Chicora. Each student got to open two books and did a right-left gift exchange before reading!

Another focus of NEHS is community service. Major events are volunteering at the Charleston Literary Festival and YallFest, which take place in November every year. Last year, NEHS held a book drive to collect books to donate to Chicora Elementary School, through a contact of Dr. Hay. Many bake sales have also been held to raise money for improving the English community both at Magnet and at our surrounding school. Due to support from the faculty and student body at Academic Magnet, all of their events have been successful and important. Yet, the biggest (and I would venture to say best) project is working with DAYLO and the Library Advisory Council to create an Angel Tree this holiday season.

In general terms, an Angel Tree uses ornaments with gifts on them to collect donations for others. This method is often used by organizations such as the Salvation Army. The National English Honor Society is using this as a tool to reach the goal of giving 156 bilingual books to each student in the first grade class at Pinehurst Elementary School. NEHS has been in contact with a first grade teacher there, once again through Dr. Hay. Both of them are graduates of Academic Magnet themselves. It’s wonderful to see the great work of alum! As books come in from the wish list, Angel Tree, or donations, they will be counted up and handed over to eager students at this nearby school. 

The holiday tree in the Key is usually strung with simple lights, tasteful decorations, and delicate ornaments decorated by each study hall class. But the Angel Tree project brings some exciting new additions this year to spruce it up. The members of NEHS made hand drawn ornaments with the names of different books, their author, and their price. In addition to the book titled on the ornament, there is a QR code on the back of every ornament that takes you to the Amazon wish list for the first grade class at Pinehurst. There are nineteen different books on the wish list, with different quantities needed for each book. The books that make up the wish list have been chosen by the first grade teachers at Pinehurst. Some teachers have chosen books specifically with a child in mind or have detailed a larger number for their class to have similar or the same book. At first, NEHS had started this project with the idea of giving the first grade teachers a class set for their students. However, the teachers responded that they had great class sets already with the suggestion of giving books for the students to take home. With this crucial feedback and great idea, NEHS expanded their goal to the entire first grade and to hopefully give them all the opportunity to read more over school breaks.

Any donation is very generous and any contribution is appreciated!

— Chloe Carlsten

NEHS members Molly George, MiChi Zheng, Lindsey Gunn, and Ella Moore (left to right) hard at work on the ornaments.

Sophomores, many of them in Mrs. Lankford’s study hall, decorated the tree last Thursday, November 30th. Students of all grades have been participating in the donations to Pinehurst by taking an ornament or two and ordering the book off Amazon. Teachers have been involved as well, with my first hand experience of my 1A AP Lit class ordering books together with Mrs. Lankford’s guidance. In addition to buying a book directly, there is also a Revtrak available to donate to. As Chloe Carlsten told me “any donation is very generous and any contribution is appreciated!” Students then bring the books back into class either wrapped or unwrapped, whatever floats your boat, and NEHS will collect the books to give to Pinehurst.

The success of this project can be attributed to many, including but not limited to Dr. Hay, Mrs. Bortz, Mrs. Lankford, and Dr. Russell. Within NEHS, MiChi Zheng has been brilliantly organizing  and delegating the tasks for members of the club and Molly George has ensured the proper advertisement for the event. Additionally, Key Club is to thank for offering participation in the Angel Tree as a project to the members. If you know anything about Key Club you know this is a generous offer. The collective support and collaboration for this project has been incredible and has been a great way to kick off the holiday season. Many many thanks to everyone who has organized, donated, or participated in any capacity! 


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