Grand Haven High School class teaches to ‘Pay It Forward’

Posted at 6:23 PM, Jan 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-21 18:23:57-05

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — Grand Haven High School teacher Brian Williams has students excited for going to class and making an impact on the community.

Williams, known as B-Dubs to his students, is offering a Pay it Forward class for the fifth year. After learning about the various problems their community faces, students choose an issue they want to work on.

"I want to provide students an opportunity to see the world and make an impact beyond themselves,” Williams said. "We go out into the community and meet with several non-profits around the community on various topics, everything from advocacy issues to mental health issues."

The students spend the semester helping others.

"They develop an awareness project, a fundraising thing," Williams said, "but something where they are out in the community working actively with businesses and nonprofits to create something organic that wasn’t there before."

Past projects include raising awareness for human trafficking victims, giving money for family that need help, and, for senior Reilly Celestin, giving a free meal to the homeless.

"It does change you as a person," said Celestin. "It lets you see the world as how it is. You get to see how people can help the world, and I think that’s the best that you can do."

The lesson takes an incredible amount of work.

"It’s one of the tougher classes, if not the toughest class they’ll take in high school, not just because of academics, because it’s so real,” Williams said.

Williams hopes more schools will teach to pay it forward: "I feel like the class is so powerful, and there is such a need for this in our country, that I would hope that other schools would decide to adopt a similar program and allow their students to start challenging themselves in a real way outside of the classrooms."

If you want to help them pay it forward, contact Williams at