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Topper Summit class helping students volunteer, build community

Ella and Isabella


Science Hill students are always seeking to have positive impacts in their community, but there is one class in particular that provides them with class time to do just that. Topper Summit is a work-based learning class at Science Hill and provides students with time to enact change in their community through service.

All students in Topper Summit serve as peer tutors to elementary students across the district. Whether it’s reading with students, helping them with homework, or just providing words of encouragement, the class allows high school students to help influence younger students across Johnson City.

“It’s fun going to different elementary schools,” Science Hill senior Ella Overbay said. “Each elementary school has its own culture, but all of the students are so sweet. It is so fun working with them and seeing their growth.”

Overbay started helping students at the beginning of the school year by reading to them. Now, she is impressed when the students are eager to read the book to her. Science Hill senior Isabella Harkleroad has only been in the Topper Summit class for the semester, but she has also been impressed with the improvements of her mentees.

“You really build a relationship with the kids,” Harkleroad said. “Seeing their growth is really rewarding to know that you helped them through a struggle. Being able to see their growth was amazing.”

Besides the weekly meeting with students, the Topper Summit class also challenges students to develop service projects as a part of their grades. Overbay and Harkleroad are members of the Beta Club at Science Hill and decided to ask their fellow members to help collect items for the Haven of Mercy.

The duo collected hygiene items like toothpaste, shampoo, toiletries, winter clothes and blankets. They recently donated them to the Haven of Mercy.

“I just know that Johnson City has a pretty big homeless population who need help in any way that we can, so we just thought it would be a good idea,” Overbay said.

Other than the service project, Overbay and Harkleroad said they really enjoyed spending time with elementary students. While both are entering college next year, they are still determining their careers. However, teaching hasn’t been ruled out. 

“This class has really shown me the great parts of being a teacher and the hard parts, too,” said Overbay, whose parents are both teachers. “But the good parts are really rewarding.”

Identifying careers and passions are a few of the reasons that students are encouraged to take classes like Topper Summit and other Career and Technical Education offerings at Science Hill.

“Taking classes throughout my high school career has made me realize that I don’t want to be in the medical field, so cross that off the list,” said Harkleroad through a smile. “But it’s been great trying different areas that I could one day turn into a career.”

For more information about Career and Technical Education at Science Hill, visit

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