Archive for Thursday, May 1, 2008

Oprah inspires DHS class projects

May 1, 2008

De Soto High School freshmen have their sights on changing the world.

Students from two ninth-grade honors courses developed action plans targeting needs like education, health, poverty and sustainable development, in specific regions like East Africa, East Asia, West Africa, Latin America and South Asia.

The so-called integrated course combines world history with literature and is taught by Chris McAfee and Erin Hayes.

"Some groups are raising money to buy water filtration systems, and another group is collecting items," Hayes said.

This is the first year the students have had such a project, which Hayes thought of after watching an episode of Oprah.

"It was some day we didn't have school and they brought up the O Ambassadors," she said. "On the Web site, it's divided up by five world regions. The students picked which area in the world they were most interested in learning about and then designed action plans."

Some groups are raising money or sending supplies, while others are focusing on raising awareness.

The West Africa group from third block decided to focus on hygiene, freshman Aubrey Burch said. So the group is asking for hand towels, wash cloths, wide-tooth combs, toothbrushes, bandages, zipper seal bags and travel size shampoo, toothpaste, soap and soap dishes.

"Our action plan is to ask people to donate these products in a Ziploc baggie or donate money to purchase the items," freshman Hannah Jokisch said.

Students worked on the project for about five weeks, researching their areas and ways to help. Some of them also read books like "Kite Runner" that related to their regions of the world.

"We talked a lot about 19th century Europe and Africa, industrialization and imperialism and how that affected these areas," McAfee said. "We learned about the past to explain why things are the way things are today."

Freshman Derek Smith said he enjoyed the project and the integration course because it was more hands on.

"We are learning a lot about these regions of the world," he said. "One thing I learned is China is in need of a lot of help. In addition to just learning about the area, you get to help people. It gives you a sense of fulfillment."

Smith and his fourth block group focused on East Asia.

"We are going through Adopt-A-Village focusing on a clean water campaign," freshman Caleb Bartel said. "Through this we will be giving money to help water sanitation in China."

Freshman Bre Labrum's third block group focused on Latin America and developed an awareness campaign called Put A Cap on Poverty. They are raising money to distribute wristbands with the logo.

"We are so used to having an easy life a lot of people are surprised by all the information they hear about other countries," she said. "By raising awareness we may be able to get people to help."

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