Webster Thomas students making a difference

23 Oct

“But now,” says the Once-ler, “now that you’re here, the word of the Lorax seems perfectly clear. UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

In honor of USA Weekend‘s annual Make a Difference Day coming up this Saturday, I bring you a nice story about some Webster Thomas High School kids who are, indeed, making a difference.

For example, there’s Avery Maltman, Cara Macaig and Miranda Cain, who teamed up to clean up Kent Park.  And Scott Skarzynski, who’s collecting used toner cartridges and electronic gadgets for recycling. And Julian Zehr, who’s organized a shoe drive for the needy in Africa. And Mia Klasner, Emma Schaefer, Sarah Ball, Sarah Hurlburt, Ellie Songer and Danny Gresens, whose bottle and can drive is raising money for postage to send those shoes to Africa.

All of these kids are students in Cathy Anne’s Enriched Earth Science Class at Webster Thomas, and while they’re helping our world, they’re also doing their homework.

It’s all part of Anne’s “Pop the ‘Me’ Bubble and Make a Difference” project, a three-month long assignment where students have to come up with some sort of project to help the environment. It could be anything from planting trees to writing letters to Congress.

Anne began the unit with a movie: Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, which chronicles the plight of the environment and how one grumpy little creature fights for it.

After watching the movie, Anne explained,

we talked about how the Lorax represents the conscience of a person and that we need to listen to our conscience and put aside our greed for the greater good.  We need to think past ourselves; pop our “me” bubbles. If we don’t start making a difference now, it will be too late.

The students were given a short list of possible ideas, and they ran with it.  The variety of projects the student devised and their depth of commitment is impressive, as illustrated in this email I received from Nathaniel Tsai:

Our assignment … was to help clean the world and make a difference. If one person wants to clean the world just that much, then in future, it could make a greater impact…Our class was given the choice to pick one activity out of a small list to do each month. The activities consist of planting trees, collect bottles/cans, start a recycling project, research alternative energy, and write letters to congress possibly about Hydrofracking, waste in the Pacific Ocean, etc.

We were also given the choice to do any other idea that we could think of. This is what I jumped on. For my “Make A Difference” project, I am doing all of those activities. But not only am I just doing them, I am recording my actions as well. This way, I can make a small video at the end of the project that I hope will influence others. My video will have some slight humor in it, but it will also be very impacting on others to help save the world. Even if it just is little by little.

This is the first year Anne has assigned a long-term project like this to her Earth Science students. But judging from their response, it will certainly not be the last.

“I was very impressed with how my students took to this project,” she wrote. “They came up with ideas and plans that are much more involved than I imagined. It shows you that these kids do care, about many things, and when they were given the opportunity to make a difference they embraced it and ran with it. It also shows that they are mature, responsible young adults who are more than just data — a test grade — and success can be measured in several different ways.”

Photos below are from the Kent Park clean-up effort by Avery Maltman, Cara Macaig and Miranda Cain


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