Our Students Are Making the World a Better Place

As we get ready for graduation in the coming weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about our seniors. This year I have had the privilege to see first-hand the tremendous effort our staff puts forth to make graduation a success and — more importantly -– to ensure our graduates are prepared to thrive in their futures. One of these teachers, Erin Carroll, an English teacher at Summit High School, recently shared her efforts in the classroom. What she shared reflects a mission we hope to see in all of our schools – a goal to empower a community of learners to change the world.

Erin’s students had taken on a year-long project to make the world a better place.

Erin gave the students one class period each week to impact someone other than
themselves in a positive way. In a world where high school students often feel
themselves thrust into competition with one another, always aiming to earn the recognition that will propel them to a better college, Erin’s project reminds students, as well as all of us that work with them, that they are much more than a transcript. Here are just a few of the highlights of the students’ work as well as a video of one team’s project.

  • Cary Percich, Miranda Harris Hamlin, and Kelsey Macy created a website inspired by the Humans of New York Facebook page. They went around Bend and listened to the stories of strangers and documented it on their site.
  • Mackenzie Hice created a film festival that she named “Fresh Eyes Film Festival” for middle and high school students in hopes to inspire future film makers. She went around and handed out flyers to all of the local schools and although she only received one entry, she is incredibly inspired to continue it with more awareness next year.
  • Torsen Humphrey and Shannon Moyer took on a project known as “Life Letters” in which they hid inspiring notes around the school every two weeks. They were excited to see that some of their letters were left in the original spots, but with another encouraging note underneath it.
  • Chara Gardemann created “Sew Many Dresses” which was a fundraiser and sewing day that sent pillowcase dresses to little girls in Africa. In the end, she was able to send 110 dresses over to Africa after raising $550.
  • Christina Edwards raised $300 and created “Blessing Bags” which were bags filled with necessities that she handed out to people living on the streets.
  • Troy Viola, Jeffrey Brundage, Aiden Ullman, and Connor Olsen raised funds to help deliver warm clothes to the homeless. They took the time to learn their stories and Erin was kind enough to allow me to link the video they showed during their final presentation on the project as it definitely worth watching.

A good student is not just about honors on paper, but also about curiosity and hard work. In Bend-La Pine Schools, we want to create more than just statistically pleasing results in our students.

We still need to focus on the things that measure progress in our schools; and colleges will continue to look at academic achievements as a barometer for success. But I believe at the same time, we can offer an education in our district that creates a well- rounded group of young people who are ready to take on life’s challenges in the classroom and in the world around them.

Erin’s students will graduate from Summit High School in the coming weeks and I can’t wait to watch them go off and and continue to change the world!

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