SRHS seniors (from left) Victoria Mellow, Natalie Delos Santos and Jerry Yang are members of a student board that manages The Butterfly Effect schoolwide initiative. (photo by Cynthia Kurose)
The ‘Butterfly Effect’ flies high at SRHS
In the center of the Scripps Ranch High School (SRHS) campus hangs a giant mural of a butterfly that reads, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Installed last winter, a group of young leaders at the school have been using the symbol as a means to make social consciousness a part of everyday life for their classmates.
Through collaboration with an international organization known as “The Butterfly Effect,” a collection of students and school counselors introduced the philanthropic movement to the SRHS community earlier this year.
Counselor Leslie McDonald is actively involved with the initiative.
“We believe it is so important for students to have an opportunity to think outside of themselves and to think about the greater needs of community,” she said.
McDonald helped to facilitate the introduction between the school and the organization’s creator, Tasha Wahl, who founded The Butterfly Effect in 2003.
“The goal of the Butterfly Effect is to inspire people to figure out how they can give back,” Wahl said in a video interview produced for SRHS.
Her philanthropic idea materialized out of a conversation with her sons in which she challenged them to determine what causes mattered most to them. She then wanted to figure out how she could help children interested in philanthropic giving by facilitating a donation in their name. Thus was born the “butterfly drop,” one of the original methods by which the organization says it promotes change and “contagious generosity.”
In a butterfly drop, a painted wooden butterfly is hidden somewhere in a community with clues as to its location publicized on social media. Once located, the person who finds it earns a financial contribution submitted in their name to the charity of their choice, funded by Wahl’s organization.
Natalie Delos Santos is a senior who serves as secretary and treasurer for the SRHS Butterfly Effect student board and has been involved since the program’s inception at the school.
“We put together a presentation to let the entire school know about the initiative,” she said of a school-wide assembly that was held in January. “We made a video that explained The Butterfly Effect and we had an activity where we hid [wooden] butterflies in the seats.”
This activity was intended to mimic a butterfly drop and generate excitement among the students.
The audience was then asked to participate. “We had the kids think about the three essential questions [originally proposed by Wahl],” McDonald said. “What lights you up? What breaks your heart? And if you had a sum of money to donate, where would you donate it and why? Every student had an opportunity to do some reflection in that assembly and then … students came on stage to share the answers to their questions.”
Seniors Victoria Mellow and Jerry Yang are co-presidents on the student board. Mellow suggested that the questions were intended to help students draw a parallel between their passions and charitable organizations that champion similar values.
“It gives them an opportunity to see something in the world that they’re not entirely satisfied with and it allows them to have a stake in making a change in that area,” she said.
At SRHS, a butterfly drop occurs on campus once each month, and clues are provided to students through an Instagram account between periods. The student board is also currently working to post clues in a static place on campus for those who do not use Instagram. Last school year, Wahl funded donations in the amount of $250 for each drop that occurred between January and June. Beginning this academic year, however, the board has set a goal to be completely self-sustaining, endeavoring to raise funds through sponsorships from businesses and individuals in the community.
“We have a business committee that is responsible for sending out emails, then going in to the businesses to make a presentation,” Yang said.
In addition to potentially raising funds to support the school initiative, “it allows the students to practice their interpersonal skills and professional skills in a workplace environment,” Yang said.
Donors interested in supporting the initiative at SRHS should email firstname.lastname@example.org. Information about The Butterfly Effect global organization can be found at butterflyeffectbethechange.com.