Published : Wednesday, August 16, 2017 | 2:32 PM
High Point Academy’s new community engagement program has taken flight. Elementary students in grades K through 8 spent the school year learning about themselves and their places in the world. Along with thinking about the needs of others, they discovered what it means to be more compassionate and self-aware.
Its outreach initiative is a two-way avenue introducing HPA students to the community and, conversely, the community to the uniqueness of HPA. Likewise, service learning does not operate in a vacuum. Its value is in preparing children to be responsible, thoughtful, and educated members of society and to nurture empathetic student-citizens through community engagement.
To this end, all students participated in developmentally appropriate community service projects that are local and designed to be carried out on a grade-by-grade basis. Some upper elementary students helped plan projects or determined how they might be funded, but all took pride in knowing the impact that they have had on those less fortunate.
High Point’s teachers worked together last summer to determine projects that would give their students a real sense of accomplishment and a deeper understanding of humanitarian and environmental needs. This ties education to service and also provides each grade with a tradition that will serve students for years to come. In addition, a committee of parents offered expertise, classroom help, transportation, and moral support—thus bringing everyone together for great causes.
During the fall quarter, a group of commendable eighth graders participated in our own “Eagle’s Lair” service learning class. As reported in the local newspapers, students formed teams to research needs in environmental or humanitarian causes in the local community.
After settling on their own student-driven community engagement projects, they were required to develop business plans and demographic studies and to use 21st century skills to create media-based presentations to “judges” who then determined which plans had the best feasibility and most thoughtful presentation.
One of the most gratifying elements of the class was watching these young people conduct pilot programs to test their ideas. One team even applied for a grant to cover its expenses!
Elementary students carried out their projects throughout the school year. In November, High Point’s kindergarten students generously donated new and used children’s coats and sweaters for Kids’ Kloset, a local charity. These items were lovingly packed into boxes decorated by the children as a class project. The young benefactors reflected back on this experience with a sense of ownership.
First grade made toys and dog biscuits as a classroom activity for the local animal charity Hand in Paw, in the spring. They also discussed ways to fundraise for their supplies—a great math lesson! Second grade students took a creative approach, too. They sewed pouches and stuffed them with collected toiletries for disadvantaged children at Hillsides Home in Pasadena.
Third graders reprised their successful “Souper Bowl”. In February, they conducted a canned food contest for Friends in Deed food pantry. This unique activity included an opportunity for children to “vote” for their favorite Super Bowl team by donating food in the name of the Falcons and the Patriots. They made posters and went classroom-to-classroom to promote their benefit—truly a tradition in the making. History came alive as the fourth grade students performed their popular “49ers” program at a local senior center in April-complete with authentic music and costumes.
Fifth graders were pleased to work with Ronald McDonald House this year. The children made welcome bags for the guests and their families, a wonderful opportunity to see the impact their generosity had on other children.
And finally, in the spring High Point Academy’s new sixth grade teachers guided their students in local conservation efforts with the Sierra Club. This project fit nicely with their earth science curriculum and provided for an exhilarating outdoor activity.
High Point Academy, 1720 Kinneloa Canyon Road, Pasadena, (626) 798-8989 or visit www.highpointacademy.org.