Debate Magazine

Everything is Possible

By Stevemiranda

I want to tell the story of what happened at PSCS today.

The staff led the students through an activity designed to launch a new idea, something we’re calling Project Monday. In the past, we used to dedicate Mondays to community service, but noticed instances in which students, in some cases, were merely participating in the ritual, going through the motions. That’s something we try to avoid as much as possible.

Project Monday has the same goal—help build community among the student body—but we want to do it in a different way. The staff asked the students to respond to a simple question: “You have eight Mondays with five hours that are wide open. What do you want to do in that time?”

* * *

The staff led a brainstorm session, which yielded a wildly diverse set of activities. Here’s a short sample: Role-playing game, making music, volunteering at Children’s Hospital, Shakespeare, clothing design, horseback riding, My Little Pony modification, building something awesome in Minecraft, web coding. It went on and on.

After the brainstorm, the staff had a quick meeting while students grabbed a snack, checked their email, or spent time socializing. The staff then moved around the school setting up ad hoc meetings with students, trying to find out more about what they’re passionate about and why.

One teacher observed that two students had expressed interest in web coding, and brought the two together. “Tell me more about what you’re thinking with that,” he said.

One of the students said, “Oh, I don’t care about the code. I’m interested in designing the interface.”

The other said, “I want to learn the whole thing, like, how web sites are built from the ground up.”

Together, they explored the possibility of collaborating on a web site—one writing the code, the other designing the interface.

* * *

One student had expressed an interest in documentary filmmaking during the brainstorm session. A teacher found him later and engaged him in a conversation about making a short documentary about one of the service projects that was proposed. Does that sound interesting to you? Would you like to work in a group, or do you prefer to do it independently?

Many questions, no single right answer to any of them. Just like life.

* * *

In addition to the group projects, students have the option of pursuing an independent study. The point of Project Monday is to build community, but that doesn’t mean we get to ignore the individual. PSCS director Andy Smallman explained, “It’s the balance of the honoring the individual in the context of community.” That’s why students doing independent study off campus have to come back on campus for the last hour of the school day. There, they’ll re-join the group for an all-school reflection, sharing what they did, and why it’s important to them.

* * *

The point of the initial brainstorm was to generate ideas for Project Monday, but even the ideas that don’t get used right away are not wasted. Horseback riding, for example, might end up being a field trip later in the school year. My Little Pony modification might be a student-led art project on a Friday later in the fall.

Everything is possible. Just like life. (If you choose to view it that way.)

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog