Julia Pedersoli (left)and Emma Tarnosky, students at Elizabeth Seton High School in Bladensburg, sort canned goods students and faculty donated during the school’s recent food drive. Tarnosky tied the food drive to the popular book and movie “Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” The school collected 2,800 cans of food that were donated to two parish food banks.
Julia Pedersoli (left)and Emma Tarnosky, students at Elizabeth Seton High School in Bladensburg, sort canned goods students and faculty donated during the school’s recent food drive. Tarnosky tied the food drive to the popular book and movie “Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” The school collected 2,800 cans of food that were donated to two parish food banks.
Emma Tarnosky, a sophomore at Elizabeth Seton High School in Bladensburg and one of the founders of her school's Vincentian Service Club, helped lead the school's Thanksgiving food drive this year to a goal-breaking success.

The school had a goal of collecting 2,500 cans of food, but topped that with a total of 2,800 collected cans. The food was donated to the food pantries at St. Bernard Parish in Riverdale Park and St. Mark Parish in Hyattsville.

"It's a very, very compassionate environment here, and the students are always ready to give," the 15-year-old resident of Crofton said of her fellow classmates and faculty and staff at Seton, which is sponsored by the Daughters of Charity.

Tarnosky, a resident of Crofton and a member of St. Pius X Parish in Bowie, tied this year's collection to the release of the movie, "Hunger Games: Catching Fire."

The movie is based on "The Hunger Games" trilogy of young adult science fiction adventure novels by Suzanne Collins. The stories are set in the future in the nation of Panem. A boy and girl from each district in the country competes against teams from other districts, with the victorious team winning food and supplies for its district.

"'The Hunger Games' is very popular, and I thought the students would enjoy it," Tarnosky said. "Plus it makes sense for a food drive." Each class was a different "district" competing against the other classes to collect the most canned goods. "It is overwhelming, all the support we had from everybody," she said.

Collecting food for local parish food banks is not the only Vincentian activity in which Tarnosky participates. Once a week she travels to ECO City Farms in Hyattsville. The farm serves a model for sustainable urban farming where volunteers tend the gardens and distribute the fruit of their labor to families in need. She also helps run a soccer training program for elementary school students and participates in a walk for the poor.

In addition to her service activities, Tarnosky is a member of Seton's swim team, plays the oboe in the school's wind ensemble, participates in Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) and is a member of the Scholar Club. She also maintains a 4.1 grade point average.

"It's a challenging environment, but the teachers here are always available to help before and after school and during lunch," she said.

She said that while the school has "challenging but fun" academics, there is also a strong emphasis on religion.

"We have Mass were everyone participates, and we have religion class all four years," she said. "This way you not only learn about your religion, but you practice it and you act on it. It has brought my faith to a whole new level."

Tarnosky is the daughter Laura and Scott Tarnosky. Her older sister Grace is a senior at Seton, and her younger sister Libby will enter next year as a freshman. She also has a brother in the fourth grade "who will probably go to DeMatha."

"I love the sisterhood here. We all care for each other. It's a real big family," she said of her school and classmates.

Although Tarnosky said she is not sure what future career path she will pursue after she graduates from Seton, the school "encourages female empowerment and always encourages you to think ahead." While no decisions have been made, she said, "my dream school is the University of Maryland" with a "something in the sciences" major.