Sophomore Classes Set Out to Change the World


By Haley Fretes

Since mid-April, the Chamberlin-Kurita-Ditz sophomore Core classes have been working on an assignment entitled “The Change-the-World Project” in which students are to identify an issue that they are intrigued by and try and help solve the problem. Students have a wide variety of topics they are addressing, from local problems, such as minimizing energy waste at Tam, to national issues such as gun control laws in the United States, to global issues like hunger and poverty in developing countries.

“‘The Change-the-World Project’ is an opportunity for students to discover what they can do to make the world a better place in just a few weeks’ time,” sophomore Asher Wenig said. “The purpose is to show students how easy it is to gather support for a cause and to lead [others] on the path of doing something productive.”

During the process, students create an “Action Plan” in which they list both short- and long-term strategies that need to be accomplished in order to address their chosen issue. Short-term goals include what students want to work towards achieving over the course of the two weeks they have to take action, while long-term strategies are ones that cannot be accomplished in two weeks but are essential for ending the problem in the future.

Sophomore Izzy Barrengos chose to address the issue of abuse against girls in developing areas. It has always been something that has interested her and she was intrigued to start making a change. “I think [this project] is effective in that it’s finally kind of forcing us to take the first step toward something that we might’ve been interested in before,” Barrengos said. “[My topic] is something I’ve wanted to look into for a while, and being kind of forced to start it was what I needed.”

In taking action, students are going through many different steps to bring awareness to the problem they are focusing on. Some are making YouTube videos, while others are writing letters to the government or newspapers in hopes of convincing them to help promote their cause. Salma Abdulkadir has decided to get the help of the ASB Leadership class to accomplish her goal of collecting school supplies for developing schools in Afghanistan. Abdulkadir’s project is to raise awareness and send school supplies to help kids in Afghanistan to excel in education to help the country’s future as well as their socio-economic lifestyles. “I was inspired to do this topic because I saw how many opportunities and advantages that we have in our society and then learning in history about how so many other kids around the world don’t have as much as we do,” Abdulkadir said. “I wanted to help out and see how far I could go.”

The ASB Leadership and administration has played a key role in her plan to help the cause. Abdulkadir had to give a few presentations to get the supply drive approved with both the Assistant Principals and the Leadership class. Abdulkadir also has worked to convince other students to help her achieve her goal. They have helped Abdulkadir distribute boxes around to Tam classrooms in hopes that people will bring supplies to donate. Salma has also brought the same boxes to Mill Valley Middle School, Strawberry Point Elementary School, Reed Elementary in Larkspur, and is looking into even more locations. “In the end I hope to collect enough school supplies to help impact at least two of the primary schools in Afghanistan, more specifically in Kabul,” Abdulkadir said. “All the schools in that area were destroyed, especially girls’ schools, by burning them down.”

For the last two weeks of school, the Pribble-Lavezzo sophomore Core class is also participating in a “Change-the World Project”. Students are pairing up in small groups to pick a topic and accomplish similar goals to the other Chamberlin-Kurita-Ditz core students. Sophomore Michaela Firmage along with her partners Annie Oliver and Jackie O’Boyle have decided to help raise awareness and money for the victims of the Oklahoma tornado. “We did some constructive work in New Orleans over spring break and got to see first hand what it is like even eight years after a disaster,” Firmage said. “We hope [this project] can help make a difference in people’s lives and remind people that it could happen to any of us at any time. We just have to be there to help out and raise awareness.”

This is not the first year the project has been assigned. Some students become extremely invested in their topics, and others treat it as they would any other school assignment. “[We assigned this project to our students] in part because our World History curriculum is pretty depressing and I wanted everyone to feel like they could do something to make the world a better place,” social studies teacher Luc Chamberlin said. “It was also in part because I want them to be active citizens and show them that they can make a difference, but they are going to have to work hard to do it.”