Students at Oakwood Middle IB School discuss their projects with visitors on Wednesday.


Genesis Triplett knows what it feels like to lose a loved one to an opioid overdose.

A student at Oakwood Middle, an International Baccalaureate World School in Statesville, Genesis lost her stepdad to fentanyl on November 11, 2023.

Genesis Triplett’s project, “Fight Against” Fentanyl” was inspired by the loss of her stepdad to overdose.

She has created a Facebook page “Fight Against Fentanyl” and website to spread awareness of the dangers of fentanyl as part of her eighth-grade project.

“This is not just a project or a grade for me, but a memorial and it was really hard to work on it at times. It’s something I will continue to spread awareness about,” Genesis explained.

Her project display, which accompanied her presentation, showed the faces of individuals who lost their lives to fentanyl overdose, including her stepdad, Christopher James Triplett. He was 40 years old.

Genesis hopes that her project will raise awareness about the topic. She plans to continue to sound the alarm.

“This crisis is wiping out a whole generation of people. Moms, dads, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, friends and stepdads just like mine. This affects all of us,” she explained.

Genesis was one of many Oakwood students who displayed their “Service as Action” project Wednesday. According to Sarah Pittman, Oakwood IB coordinator, the project are intended to “directly showcase their personal interest with some form of service in the community.”

The project is a requirement for all Oakwood eighth-graders. The projects span the entire school year, starting with some guidance or brainstorming. Students make their plan and work to achieve the goals that they establish for their projects.

“I’m just so proud of our kids,” Principal Carrie Tulbert said. “I’m proud of everyone’s contributions.”

Tulbert stressed Pittman’s leadership with the Service as Action piece.

“We talk to our staff and our kids about wanting to be better humans. To me, this is what education is all about. It’s about helping make the world a better place. Today, we got to see really concrete examples,” Tulbert said.

“It was really awesome to see how they made the world a better place. Whether it was through a bake sale and cultural arts or homelessness at Fifth Street,” she added.

Jill Hartle, IB Coordinator at Statesville High School, spent the day at Oakwood and helped Tulbert judge the projects using a rubric. The projects have a direct correlation to what they are learning through the IB program, Hartle said.

“You could see their passion for what they learned. That’s how you create lifelong learners. They used skills that they learned and transferred it into this (project). They were raw, open and admitted their success and failures and growing points. Some of them even opened up to their classmates deep secrets that they kept hidden,” Hartle said.

“That speaks volumes to how safe they feel in this learning environment,” she added.

Tulbert said that the Middle Years IB program is open to anyone who wants to be in the program.

“It’s not for a particular type of kid. It should be everywhere. It’s a framework of how we teach and how our kids learn,” she explained.