Agents for Change

Service projects are contagious.

After we had such an amazing ivy pull during our last day of service, my students were eager to do more.  But, unfortunately, it was time for yet another one of our state mandated tests. This time it was “You Decide,” a civics classroom based assessment where students research a topic of concern for our community.

The first criterion for picking a topic was that it impacts our local community. Some of my students were excited to continue on with the work we began during water quality testing.  We had noticed that one of our testing sites was closed (down on Capitol Lake) because of an oil spill at the derelict Olympia Brewery. These students then set about digging through the Olympian to find reasons why such a strange and impactful would even happen in the first place. Photo at left from The Olympian.

We soon learned that the spill was caused by some desperate people pulling copper pipes out of an old transformer system.  “Why were people so desperate?” was the inevitable question. We didn’t dig very deep until we realized that the homeless crisis here in Olympia was really the cause of this desperation.  So we dove in deeper, inviting housing experts, the Olympia Police Department, and Sidewalk, a local non-profit whose mission is to alleviate homelessness.

Students were so moved, that they quickly decided to do something about it.  My students rallied to do a bake sale. I am proud to say we raised almost $1000 and donated it to Sidewalk.  With these two service projects under their belts, I believe that my students now see themselves as positive agents for change.  Isn’t that why we got into this business in the first place?

Submitted by Matt Samson, teacher at Lincoln Elementary School. 

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