Two Glacier Peak High students working to supply PPE to schools for safe reopening
Owen Giese and Benjamin Glover, from left to right
SNOHOMISH — During a time of national civil unrest, coinciding with a worldwide pandemic causing school closures, it is hard to imagine what senior year might look like for a local high schooler. A 17-year-old is typically concerned about their senior year and hanging out with friends, but high school in the year 2020 seems anything but typical.
Two seniors at Glacier Peak High School, Benjamin Glover and Owen Giese, wanted to help make the return to school safer.
As co-founding members of the West Coast branch of Shielding Our Defenders, Glover and Giese got involved with the nonprofit organization through fellow students they met at a Harvard University summer school.
“It was a seven-week event studying two different courses of your choice at Harvard,” Giese said. “That’s where we met the founders of the East Coast division, which are really good friends of ours.”
In response to the New York mask shortage, the East Coast students founded Shielding Our Defenders, a charity organization focused on raising money to equip medical personnel with PPE.
The organization was successfully supplying masks to hospitals and special care centers throughout New York and wanted to expand their reach, according to Glover.
What started as a school project on the East Coast soon grew into a national charity providing medical personnel with quality PPE.
“After finding some success (...) they asked me and a couple of my fellow friends to begin a West Coast branch,” Glover said.
Shielding Our Defenders was able to raise more than $40,000 through crowdsourced funding to donate effective PPE to local hospitals.
Once hospitals got a handle on the mask crisis, the need for donated PPE was no longer dire. The focus shifted to helping the inevitable return to school be permanent.
Glover said the organization plans to supply masks to school districts locally, as well as nationally, to help prepare schools for a safe return.
“I kind of realized that this actually gives us the best chance of having somewhat of a senior year, kind of salvage what we can sort of thing for as many people as possible,” Glover said. “The high school
experience is somewhat legendary and super important to lots of people.”
Glover said if they were able to donate enough PPE to schools, it might help some of the high school experience return to normal.The charity is aware that most districts are 100% online right now, but the organization aims to make the re-opening of schools as safe as possible.
Glover said when schools do open they want to supply them with a surplus of masks, just in case a student forgets one or brings one that isn’t appropriate or one that isn’t effective. The goal is to ensure schools have some sort of supply chain to rely on he added.
Although COVID-19 is a prominent issue in our country, the progress has stalled.
According to Glover, the steady stream of donations has slowed with so much going on in the country, so he made the decision to partner with a local author in order to continue to raise funds.
The book “School in the Time of the Plague: A parent planner and keepsake,” by Katie McAllister and L.K. Glover, is available to purchase on Amazon. 25% of the profits from the $10 planner go directly to Shielding Our Defenders’ back-to-school mask program.
Giese and Glover were one of three West Coast division founding members. A student in California, who they met at the Harvard summer school, has students at his high school involved in the program as well.
Giese and Glover hope to attend the University of Washington following their senior year.
Although Giese states both their original plans were to apply for Ivy League schools, due to the circumstances of COVID-19 they decided on UW for now.
“We kind of just do the same thing, it’s kind of funny,” Giese said. “We basically applied to the University of Washington for this upcoming winter quarter.”
Because of the college in the high school program, they are going to have enough college credits to get an associate’s degree at the end of this January.
“So we’re going to do Running Start through the University of Washington working toward a bachelor’s.”
Glover aims to receive a degree in business from the University of Washington and become a consultant in the future.
Giese said after college graduation, he plans to apply for graduate school. He’s undecided on his major for college.
To learn more about Shielding Our Defenders, visit www.shieldingourdefenders.org
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