Ninth-graders seek out avenues of community outreach, activism.
The Crossroads students spent their class period examining pears and oranges for quality, sorting the fruit into boxes they assembled and stacking the cases methodically for future shipment to charities that fight hunger.
Indeed, their recent afternoon at Westside Food Bank was ripe for a lesson in community awareness and service.
The activity was a hands-on field trip of sorts for the students in Ken Rosen’s ninth-grade Community Awareness course, which aims to help them connect their interests to a wide array of avenues for social activism.
“The whole crux of the program is to try to get them thinking that community service should be something you’re passionate about, not something you feel like you need to check a box and get rid of the hours,” Ken says. “We try to get them thinking by saying, ‘What do you like to do? And is there a way you can funnel that passion into helping out in the community?’”
The semester-long class illustrates Crossroads’ commitment to nurturing students’ penchants for positive change in their local, national and global communities. Built into curricula across all three School divisions, community service is seen not as a supplement to the educational experience, but rather as an integral component of it.
Ken has been teaching the weekly Community Awareness course for four years, but it has been around much longer than that. Students research a wide variety of charities and also delve into discrimination, stereotyping and bias as those topics related to their outreach goals.
“[Community service] brings people together in a way that a lot of things can’t,” says freshman Levi Port, who participated in the recent volunteer effort. “When people are working together for a good cause, there’s almost a euphoric feeling. Not only does it help people in need, but you’re also making new friends and connections and learning about the world in ways you never could if you weren’t doing it.”