Service learning encourages students to address prevalent issues around the community


From constructing solar ovens and writing advocacy letters to producing care packages and making sandwiches for the homeless, students engaged in service learning projects in order to strengthen the greater community.

Freshmen: Environment

As a part of theFreshmen1ir service learning project, freshmen are building solar ovens that will be distributed in Sierra Leone, a country in West Africa.  These solar ovens will replace the currently used tent fires that infiltrate smoke in their living spaces.

“The ninth graders are going to attempt to build 50 solar ovens that are going to be shipped to Sierra Leone, Africa,” science teacher Glen Melnik said. “Once this project is finished, they will be able to heat over 280 degrees, boil water and cook food without any electricity.”

The ovens denote energy from the sun, release no detrimental emissions, and can be reused throughout the years. The freshmen were given kits and are now responsible for assembling the solar ovens. Because of the density of this project, the students may have to finish up the project in the weeks to come, Melnik said.

“We’re building these ovens for the women in Sierra Leone so that they don’t have to cook in the tents with the smoke that is harmful to the environment and themselves,” freshman Gemma Fucigna said. “Women won’t get any respiratory problems from the bad air in the tents.”

Sophomores: Discrimination

Sophomores2Sophomores explored the issue of discrimination throughout the community. Whether it is discrimination in the classroom, in the community, or world wide, students made collages that address prejudice, English teacher Mercedes. Foster said.

“We have to recognize the issues of inequity before we can address them and that’s what this project and the collages are about,” Foster said.

The sophomores engaged in old school research by browsing newspapers and magazines to look for examples of things that are happening in this world as it relates to discrimination.

Sophomore Olivia Arrabit explored female bias and messages within the media that try to portray how women should act around a man. Sophomore Tess Olcott researched gender discrimination in addition to discrimination on a large scale.
“I think it’s interesting to see how as a society we are moving forward, but not to a point where everyone is equal, which you can definitely see by everyone making these posters,” Olcott said.

In addition to poster collages, the sophomores wrote advocacy letters for a cause or issue that they feel needs to be addressed. Foster said that they will be writing letters of advocacy through either letters of support, or by asking for change through people in positions of governmental, financial, or corporate power.

Sophomore Chloe Lee Rowlands wrote a letter to the Parents Committee in regards to  gender issues within the high school.

“I wrote about the discrimination and inequity that goes into the separation of the senior tea versus the senior barbeque,” Rowlands said. “I think that it is an archaic tradition that uses stereotyping to create an unfair dynamic within our community.”

Juniors: Poverty/Homelessness

Juniors3To address youth homelessness, juniors made care packages and wrote letters to less fortunate teenagers in the Bay Area.

“We are helping homeless teens with some of the necessities that they need to help pull themselves together when applying for jobs and to make positive changes in their lives,” history teacher Allison Cota said.

The juniors packed boxes consisting of socks, hygiene products like soap, lotion, and shampoo, dental products like floss and toothpaste, and other necessities.

“I think it will help teenagers by first off, giving them the basic necessities that we take for granted and they often do not have, and also by letting them know that someone cares about them and giving them that sense of belonging,” junior Thomas Horn said.

Seniors: Economic Disparity

Seniors1Seniors responded to issues of homelessness within Oakland. By packing peanut butter and jelly lunches and making kits with hygiene necessities, the students hoped to alleviate some of the burdens homeless individuals face.

“We made hygiene kits for individuals in our community center,” Community Engagement Manager Rosa Baeza said. “Our hygiene kits consisted of deodorant, razors, toothbrushes, toothpastes, and other products people can use when they take showers in the center.”

By making special care packages for underprivileged teenagers, students had the opportunity to give the homeless access to items that are too expensive for them to acquire, senior Spencer Kim said. In addition, seniors made sandwich lunches to address hunger.

“We made sandwiches for people who don’t have a stable food supply,” senior Max Schugart said. “I think it’s important that everyone in the community gets fed.”