Black Mountain Elementary School’s sixth grade class celebrated “Make a Difference Day” with a focus on bettering not only their school but their community.
Elementary education senior Morgan Black, the class’s student teacher from ASU, worked with her mentor teacher to facilitate the students’ service projects.
“Everybody is able to see how these kids are growing and becoming adults,” Black said. “As a teacher, it’s important to be able to let students dig deep. They made this grow into something really big and really powerful.”
The 90 students were split up into three curriculum blocks, each working toward completing a specific service project. Students used the scientific method to research topics and chose to center on a variety of causes.
Projects included a lemonade stand, random thank-you notes and “Ask a Sixth Grader.”
Students do not receive a grade for the projects, as the incentive is primarily to connect to community service.
Black said the first group of the class hoped to create a support system for younger students with their “Ask a Sixth Grader” project. Students asked those in lower grade levels to submit any questions they would like to have answered via mailboxes placed throughout the school.
Jaclyn Kennedy, 11, said she liked how the project allowed younger students to trust older students with their problems.
“One of the questions asked was, ‘Someone is making fun of me for what I like. What do I do?’” Jaclyn said. “We said that you should try to say, ‘I like what I like, and nothing is wrong with that.’”
The second group of students chose to write personal thank-you notes and make cookies for organizations and people throughout the community. Black said some students showed their enthusiasm and dedication to the project by offering to pack boxes to be sent out during their lunch break.
The last group opened a lemonade stand in hopes of raising $2,000 by the end of October. She said students showed their ingenuity by creating a lemonade cart for soccer games on the weekend. Students voted to have proceeds from the stand go to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital and the Maricopa County Animal Care & Control.
McCade Siegel, 12, said he thought the most rewarding part of the lemonade stand was giving back to the community.
“I think this project ran really smoothly,” McCade said. “(Black) told us to be social and friendly to the community. It’s a good thing to do, because it’s a necessary skill in life.”
Matt Owsley, the school’s principal, said Black Mountain Elementary tries to promote the slogan that character counts. Through their service projects, the sixth graders had set an example for younger students.
“This has been a great thing in getting our sixth graders out in a positive light for the rest of our students,” he said. “I just thought it was awesome that the projects were set up to allow every kid to participate. Some kids have really taken this on and stepped up.”
Owsley said he commended ASU for its iTeach program and the community partnership it had created.
Black said the class is working on its second round of projects for the month of November. “Ask a Sixth Grader,” because of its popularity with students, will be continued. Students have expressed interest in creating a “science night” as well as fundraising for the event.
“What we wanted to do was have them be involved in the community and have it be meaningful to them,” she said. “We wanted them to do this out of the goodnesss of their hearts.The reflective letters they’ve written back are really cool; it’s really cool to see them grow.”
One of the hand-written letters from the class read, “This project has made a huge impact and has given me a different perspective on how I look at my ability to help.”
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