JUNE 2, 1997
Naomi Gilman, a Skyview Junior High ninth grader, displays her "Breakout" project on fetal alcohol syndrome.
Photo by Deborah Stone/Northwest News.
by Deborah Stone
All 260 ninth graders at Skyview Junior High in Bothell recently celebrated the culmination of their year-long project, "Breakout." The students began working in October on an area of interest in which each did research and became an expert on. They then used that expertise to make a difference in their community.
Students were encouraged to make a difference in a way that would be most meaningful to them. Students were required to make a community contact with an expert to help guide their research and use a minimum of twenty sources for their project. Most put in over 120 hours outside of school. Many gave oral presentations earlier this month before displaying their projects to parents and families at the celebration on May 14th.
According to Diane Puckett, ninth grade teacher and one of the advisors for the project, "Breakout" was instituted at Skyview five years ago when the school first opened. "It is designed to provide students with real life learning and show ties between subjects in school and community issues," she said. "We want them to be involved in learning what they are passionate about, what they care about, and what they will see as valuable to them."
Meggan Kimball chose autism as her topic, as she has a younger brother who is autistic and she wanted to delve deeper into the subject. As part of her project, she helped plan, set up, and chaperone a sock hop to benefit Sorenson, a special-needs school in the district. "It was very rewarding to see the Sorenson kids enjoy this activity and watch the expressions on their faces. I'm glad I could provide them with this experience," she said.
Another student, Patrick Corwin, researched the preservation of bald eagles and worked to make money, which he donated to the Nature Conservancy. He also created a life-size papier mache bald eagle sculpture which he presented to Skyview, whose mascot is the eagle. "I wanted to tell people how important eagles are to our ecosystem and that they deserve attention, as they are on the threatened list. I enjoyed creating the sculpture and wanted to grab people's attention by making it huge," Corwin said.
Rachel Williams chose child safety as her issue and taught the basics of child safety in the home to students at Canyon Creek Elementary. She also developed a giant story and picture book with cartoon stories of true life incidences that occur in many homes. She read her book to the students and sent home packets of safety information to their parents. "Being a babysitter made me realize all the safety concerns in the home," she said. "I love children and decided to do something to help prevent them from having accidents. If I'm able to prevent just one accident from occurring, then I have made a difference."
The projects are evaluated by a team of teachers, and the assessment comprises a large portion of the students' English and Social Studies final grades, acording to Puckett. "The school views this project as an important part of the graduation requirements. We want students to leave Skyview with confidence in their own abilities to make a difference in their community," she said.