Hopkins ninth-grade students present community service projects

Students were asked to connect an individual passion with a community in need as part of the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program.
April 12, 2018

If you could help solve any problem in the world, what would you do? That is the question that ninth-grade students were tasked with, and they came up with profoundly thoughtful answers. The work was part of the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program community service capstone project, which all ninth-grade students were asked to complete. This particular group of students has had a long time to think about service learning work. They are the first to be fully immersed in the IB Middle Years Program, which was incorporated into the junior high in 2015. Service learning is a cornerstone of this global curriculum.

"Starting in seventh-grade, this group of ninth-grade students has been encouraged to think about a problem they want to solve, and to consider how they might use their skills and interests to tackle that problem," said Angela Wilcox, IB coordinator at North Junior High.

All students developed a project that connected an individual passion with a community in need. The all-encompassing project required students to pursue independent learning, and engage in critical thinking and problem solving. They presented their overall findings to their schools and the larger community during the first week of April.

"This capstone project helped students feel the sense of accomplishment – and the joy – that comes from doing service, and we hope it will encourage students to stay involved in their communities in meaningful ways through high school and beyond," said Wilcox.

The student presentations represented a range of passions and interests. In one project, a group of young men planned a leadership seminar for Eisenhower second-graders. They talked to students about how to be leaders, played basketball with them, and read stories to them about leadership. In another project, three young women who are first-generation Minnesotans interviewed their families about living through and escaping the Somali war and then moving to the United States. Another group saw the need to raise awareness for the LGBTQ community and mental health. They created a website that contained their research on how members of this community are more at risk for mental health issues, and created an online campaign.

Regardless of the project, connecting the learning that goes on inside the classroom to the larger world helps students understand that everyone can make contributions and be agents of change.

"Service is at the heart of what it means to be an IB student," said Jennifer Poncelet, IB coordinator at West Junior. "By serving a community, students develop empathy and understanding. By working in groups of their choosing, students learn how to collaborate, manage conflict and adapt to the unexpected."

International Baccalaureate Capstone Project

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