Working for some change


Calis Lim, Reporter

On an early Saturday morning, while most high schoolers are sleeping, junior Madalyn Schmitt is awake to brainstorm designs, press shirts, and manage her business.

While each product on Etsy has ornate design, joyful color, and her artistry, one standout is her semicolon design, which supports a cause she is passionate about.

“In October of my freshman year, we lost my cousin to suicide, so ever since then that’s been what I’ve wanted to advocate for and help,” Schmitt said. “My first shirt order that I did was for one of my friends, and she wanted a semi-colon pocket tee. And after I did it, I thought, wow, this could be a really cool way to raise awareness.”

Schmitt has done more than just raise awareness: she’s created a lasting impact on customers.

“Definitely the most rewarding thing is meeting people who have similar experiences and being able to help them in just the littlest way by having a shirt with a semicolon on it,” Schmitt said.

Being passionate about helping a cause is a commonality with other entrepreneurs, like senior Boston Cooper.

His business sells apparel with inspirational sayings that promote positivity and acceptance, but the situation that inspired his business was anything but.

“At Metcalf, bullying wasn’t people getting put into lockers or thrown into trash cans, but it was more people saying things to each other,” Cooper said. “At first they would say it’s whatever, but they would still think about it the next day. I thought: this is an issue.”

In response to this problem, he started his business.

“Not everybody is brave enough to tell them stop or physically intervene,” Cooper said. “So, I figured wearing a t-shirt is something where you don’t have to say anything or do anything, except show yourself.”

Another senior who shares this go-getter attitude is Paul Africano.

You may have spotted Africano selling various colors of bracelets, each color promoting a different charity. Currently all profits go to St. Jude’s Children Hospital, Community Cancer Center, and Children’s Home & Aid, the last of which he has a connection to.

“I did this when I was little: they get people to go to stores around Christmas time and let the kids buy whatever toys that they want,” Africano said. “They do stuff for kids who don’t have the opportunities that we do.”

Judging by sheer number of bracelets on wrists, his business has thrived. Yet, like the other entrepreneurs in story, his deep-rooted compassion makes him want to do even more.

“I don’t want to settle for making $900, I want to make thousands and make an even bigger impact,” Africano said.

It’s evident that his work will leave a legacy at our school.

“I didn’t do this for me, I did it for the school and the community. I did it in name of the spirit stick holder and represented what it should be. I think that it’s important because it’ll influence the next person to do the same thing,” said Africano.