Graduating seniors this year are heading off to schools like Brown, Columbia, and Boston University, and many of these students are the first generation in their family to attend college. Since our high school is relatively new, we are gearing up for our second graduation ever on June 16th. As students like Shannon and Jenzel (pictured here) accept their diplomas, I will be remembering their accomplishments when they were 11 years old in my homebase.
What makes me most proud is that students at Innovation Academy are not waiting until they graduate to work for change. In fact, a group of middle school students saw a problem recently and took immediate action to fight for the needs of our planet. The numerous middle school students organized themselves into the “Lorax Society” to fight for protection of the trees that were being cut down to build athletic facilities at our school. The Hawks (our school mascot) haven’t had proper fields or a track to practice on, and so we are currently building a new facility, which will be complete with a state of the art soccer field, track, and even a snack shack. Some IACS students worry about the red-tailed hawks that could lose their homes due to the land being cleared, and began communicating online about their concerns.
Students mobilized, and pretty soon, they were able to meet with Walter Landberg, the Executive Director of Innovation Academy, to discuss the expansion in person. He listened carefully to the students’ perspectives, and also told them more about the expansion initiative. He pointed out how the school is tearing down 5 acres now, but working to protect over a hundred more acres of forest that we own.
Innovation on Earth is a website about building global citizenship, and it’s clear that these students are seeing themselves and their school, Innovation Academy, as a part of a larger world community. They are putting the needs of others, in this case the animals, above their own. While seeing the trees come down is heart breaking, the dedication of these students is beautiful:
Back in elementary school, many of us were taught that there are two sides to every issue: good vs. evil or wrong vs. right. As we get older, we learn that issues are more complicated. While these trees will be missed, the benefit to the school will be huge. We want to offer our students the best educational facility possible, and that means we need to make space for this growth. We need to show our community membership by supporting this project and helping our school to grow. I am equally proud of those who supported the expansion. Our school community has raised over $50,000 to benefit this project, and that’s good citizenship too. Mr. MacKinnon’s speech at the groundbreaking ceremony said it best: this facility will give us “the ability to invite others into our community and demonstrate to them the exemplary citizenship that Innovation Academy instills in all of its members.” Check it out:
Can we be good community members at Innovation Academy who support our school AND be good global citizens who protect our forests? Students, we are looking to you to show us how it’s done.