Glenridge Middle students sought to make a difference through community projects.
It’s important to try to make a difference in the world, and for the IB students at Glenridge Middle School, they are already learning how.
Every year, the eighth-grade IB students at the school are told to find a community project to complete — whether it’s something at Glenridge, in the local community or even in another country.
The students are asked to identify a need and then plan a project over two months to make a positive impact. They also present their project to a class of sixth- and seventh-graders.
Among the IB students was Madison Barberree, 13, who ran the school’s Red Ribbon Week — an anti-drug campaign during the last week of October.
Barberree and a group of volunteers came out before the week started and decorated the courtyard of the school in red, hanging ribbons and spray painting the lion statue. She and her family also bought red solo cups and stuck them in the chain link fences to spell “Red Ribbon Week” and “The key is drug free.” Events were planned around each day of Red Ribbon Week, like a crazy sock day and a wear red day.
The experience helped Barberree understand how big of a problem drug use really is, she says.
“My eyes were closed from just living in this area when it’s not very apparent,” Barberree says. “You get a realization of how bad it affects people. … I’ll think about it every October. I’ll probably keep doing research to build off what I did here.”
Another IB student was William Dietz, 13, who decided help gather supplies such as canned goods, dry goods, hand sanitizer, clothes, blankets and medical supplies for people from Puerto Rico who came to the United States following Hurricane Maria.
Dietz and several volunteers went door-to-door in early December gathering supplies and then passed them off to the Puerto Rico Family Response Center in Orlando.
Several hundred cans, about 15 cases of water, six blankets and a few trash bags filled with clothes were donated, Dietz says.
“There was lot on the news — just hearing about the numbers and how much devastation there was,” he says. “I can’t imagine myself in that place and how many families and people are going through that without a home. They just need supplies. It felt really good to help people out. I think it also gave me some organizing skills.”
Dietz says he plans to keep an eye on what’s going on in Puerto Rico. The projects leaving an impression on the students and causing them to think differently is the exact goal of the assignment, Glenridge Middle School IB Coordinator Nicole Deuter says.
“They’re taking all their communication skills and networking and everything they’ve learned in their classes throughout the program and putting it into place independently,” Deuter says. “I hope that they realize that they have a responsibility to be global citizens and be a part of their community, and that when they see a need that they should address it, even if its not ‘assigned’ or ‘a grade.’ It just becomes a part of them to do good.”
It seems the project is working.
“It feels different to actually start something and watch it follow through,” Barberree says. “It just gives you a good feeling.”