May 22, 2020


DAYTON, Ohio - COVID-19 precautions shut-down Carroll High School the week before the school musical "Bye Bye Birdie." It was soon "bye bye" everything. Classes continued online, but there was no prom, no spring sports, and saddest yet for seniors, no in-person graduation.


As schools closed, all Community Blood Center high school blood drives were cancelled. But Carroll junior Ryan Ballou decided that COVID-19 should not stop the school blood drive.


"I heard a lot about how we had a blood shortage in our county," said Ryan, who has been the student blood drive coordinator of Carroll blood drives since his freshman year. "So, I reached out to Miss Laura Wright, our faculty blood drive coordinator, and asked her if there was any way we could still manage a blood drive."


Carroll Principal Matt Sableski gave his approval, and Carroll had less than a month to recruit donors. "At first I didn't know," said Laura Wright. "I sent out an email and got a pretty good response. You know, the students' schedules are pretty open right now!"


The blood drive came together on May 21 in the school gym on the last day of virtual classes. Students and parents filled all the appointments, totaling 56 donors and 47 blood donations.


"I was actually surprised when Miss Wright reached out to me" said senior Madeleine Sanders, who returned to Carroll Thursday to make her fourth lifetime donation.


Madeleine will work her from home for her summer job at Wright Patt Air Force Base, and she's hoping for in-person classes at the University of Notre Dame in the fall. But seniors will be videotaped individually receiving their diplomas for a virtual graduation presentation in June.


"I was really hoping we could work out something so we could come back," she said. "Now I see with what's going on this is the best that was possible."


Kenneth Smith was one of several Carroll seniors who qualified for the CBC Red Cord Honor program with his third donation Thursday.


"I was hoping I'd still be able to get the third done, so I'm really glad," said Kenneth. "'Senioritis' hits differently when your (taking virtual classes) in your own bedroom. It hits very differently!"


Junior Margaret Ollier was one of 15 first-time donors at Thursday's blood drive. "I knew there was a need right now for people to donate blood," she said. "I felt like if I was going to do it, it might as well be today."


The timing of the blood drive on the final day of virtual classes was perfect for junior Donna Lawhorn. "I'm going to Texas tomorrow," she said. "We're going straight through without stopping. My grandpa lives in the middle of nowhere, so we figured we'd go and be somewhere else."


Donna is not alone in feeling trapped by the pandemic. The long road trip will serve as an escape, and her donation gave her and her classmates a sense of purpose, and a final call to service as a Carroll Patriots during a confusing time.


"I really think the COVID-19 outbreak has changed kind of how we value our relationships and what we take for granted in the world," said Ryan Ballou. "Just seeing the same faces every day. I think it will change our entire mindset. Not only as students or kids but as a society, on really valuing those around us and what we have."