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BSM Senior Uses Capstone Project to Help Others

BSM Senior Uses Capstone Project to Help Others
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For Maddie Kaltsas ‘24, helping others is something she’s done for years. In the summer of 2023, she heard her mother, Tera, speaking about how some students at the school where she taught needed to choose between buying food and basic health supplies. Maddie was surprised and shocked. As Maddie does, she decided to do something to help.

Maddie’s efforts became her senior year capstone project entitled CodeRed.

“My Mom worked as a teacher and saw students who faced a choice of getting food or basic health needs,” Kaltsas explained, “The pink tax on certain hygiene items makes the cost of these products more expensive. For those who are disadvantaged, this sometimes results in using less than ideal alternatives.”

The pink tax describes an observed difference in prices between health care items for men as compared to women. The resulting higher cost impacts the ability of consumers to make purchases, limiting their available funds. For students that come from lower income households, the effect has potentially negative effects.

“I heard stories of female students using basic household supplies like paper towels and toilet paper instead of appropriate products for their period,” Kaltsas said. Feeling a sense of compassion, she spoke with Dr. Steve Pohlen with an idea for her senior year capstone project.

Pohlen, who organizes the R.E.D. project at Benilde-St. Margaret’s, saw the potential immediately. “R.E.D. is an academic program providing students with the opportunity to do research, be an entrepreneur, and then design a solution to solve a real-world problem,” he said, noting, “Maddie has done an amazing job with CodeRed to exemplify what our RED program is designed to do for students - she’s taken the initiative to make a difference in the world for others.”

Kaltsas has since created a website for her project and is raising awareness by speaking about her initiative with classmates and those who are interested in helping her efforts. This isn’t the first time Kaltsas has done something at a large scale to help others. While a second grader, she organized a school-wide book drive to help gather books for children in the pediatric wing of Shriners Hospital Minneapolis. Her efforts resulted in a delivery of more than 300 books.

When not working on her capstone project, Kaltsas is also a high honor roll student, an editor-in-chief of the Knight Errant, BSM’s senior high student newspaper, a member of the National Honor Society, and involved with the BSM Sustainability Club. She was captain of the BSM cross country and lacrosse teams, a member of the Spanish Language Honor Society and is bilingual in Spanish.

In 2022, Kaltsas established a chapter of Morgan’s Message at BSM, a group that raises awareness of proper mental health for athletes and was inducted into the National Art Honor Society this year, while her work in ceramics was recognized with a Scholastic Silver Key award.

Outside of BSM, Kaltsas also is an assistant coach for a community lacrosse team and volunteers at the Travail Memory Care Center in Shorewood where she received a volunteer service award.

As Kaltsas prepares to graduate with her fellow Red Knights at the end of May, she is already looking forward to attending Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY, where she intends to graduate with a degree in environmental engineering and sustainability.

Maintaining the CodeRed website and project will continue after graduation, Kaltsas is exploring options to inspire others to help. “The need is there and the opportunity for someone else to keep this going means we can continue making a positive impact in the lives of others.”

We are BSM proud of Maddie and her service for others.

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About Benilde-St. Margaret's School
Benilde-St. Margaret's (BSM) is a Catholic, co-educational private prep school for grades 7–12 located in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, that draws its over one thousand students from throughout the Twin Cities Metro Area. It is located in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

The mission of BSM is to educate, empower, and inspire learners within a Catholic community to lead lives of faith, achieve academic excellence, and contribute meaningfully to a global society.

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