Community and Service is a strong tradition at HPMS. Students are given the opportunity to complete service projects within the community. Because the Middle Years Program promotes community and service as one of the Areas of Interaction (AOI), students at Highland are all given the opportunities to reach outside of the classroom walls and work in areas, which are of concern to them, in the community. The International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) asks students to explore these questions related to Community and Service:
- How do we live in relation to each other?
- How can I contribute to the community?
- How can I help others?
- is an instructional strategy by which students learn and develop active participation in thoughtfully organized service learning experiences that meet actual community needs and are coordinated by the school and community;
- is integrated into the student’s academic curriculum and provides structured time for a student to think, talk, or write about the service, the learning, personal growth and new understanding;
- provides students with opportunities to use newly acquired skills and knowledge in real situations to make their communities better; and
- enhances what is taught in school by extending student learning beyond the classroom and into the community and helps to foster a sense of caring for others.
Waste & Recycling
We surveyed our campus, we were surprised at the large amount of litter. There were no garbage or recycle bins outside for students and staff to put their waste. We put a trash and recycling bin outside in front of our school. These receptacles are used by students, staff and the public. Our main goal was to encourage people to recycle and reduce the amount of litter in our community.
While conducting a survey, we found that students recycled but did not buy or use recycled products. Our group decided to educate Highland staff and students about why they should recycle and use recycled products. We promoted the use of recycled materials by educating through announcements and raffling off recycled products at lunch. During lunch, students answered questions about recycling. If they were correct, we included their names in the raffle for a pop tab purse and a recycled bike tube wallet. The Green Guardian came and handed out recycled money and blue jean pencils. It was a fun experience to see so many smiling faces and have so many students asking questions about recycling. We celebrated by planting a tree.
The Immersion Team (French and Spanish) studied the “Get It: Global Education to Improve Tomorrow” curriculum written by Heifer International for grades 6-8. Students learned about global trade related to coffee, bananas and flowers. They studied related topics like fair trade and child labor. A service-learning project was the culminating part of this study. The students held an evening poetry festival for parents during which they read poetry in Spanish, created around the theme of global change. They requested a free will contribution and collected $130. The students’ poetry was compiled into an anthology and the books are being sold for $10 with proceeds going to Heifer Project International, and KIVA.com-organizations that support small business enterprises in developing countries.
Identity in America Mural
As a project during homeroom, students designed and created a mural that focused on the theme for English Language Arts in 7th grade, Identity in America. They wrote poetry and drew pictures for the mural that focuses on the theme and chose which elements would work best for the project. The students also chose a location, with the school’s principal, that would work best for the mural. The purpose of this project was to empower students to use writing tools they learned in English class and their creativity to publish their writing in a lasting and meaningful way.
Reading to Kindergarteners
The main goal in this project is to contribute to the community by helping to encourage kindergarteners to read and see why it is important to read. By helping students improve their reading skills and helping them to like reading, we will also help them want to read more. We can be role models for the younger students. Since the kindergarten classes were learning about illustrators, we decided that every student should create a self-portrait. We exchanged them with our partners the first day we met. We also talked and played beanbag games. We bought each kindergartener a book that they would like to read. Three Highland Park Middle School classes and three Highland Park Elementary classrooms were involved.
Promoting Reading Through Storytelling
Ninety-one Spanish Immersion Language Arts students read many stories in Spanish. They discussed the qualities of what makes a good story for young readers. Then they wrote and illustrated their own stories for young readers. Students edited their work and gave each other valuable feedback. We read and shared our work with each other. The students selected 36 superior stories to be read to first and second grade students at Adams Spanish Immersion School.
Finding Our Voice
Students learned about the history of the Hmong people and the current situation in Laos. They learned about three U.S. citizens from St. Paul who “disappeared” while traveling in Laos in August of 2007. Students were inspired by guest speakers and family members of the missing men to write letters to U.S. Senators Amy Klobucher and Norm Coleman to persuade them to meet with the U.S. Ambassador to Laos to work toward getting the men released. They practiced how to write a formal business letter using persuasive diplomatic language. A committee of students continues to plan ways to get the message out to others and encourage more people to write letters. They continue to explore other ways to help.