On Tuesday night the freshman class of 2020 lined up their trifolds and got ready to share their hard work with the Oyster River community. The students were sharing their Power of One projects, a final assignment for freshmen in World Cultures that has been done for years at ORHS. Students are asked to choose a topic or issue that they feel strongly about, and involve themselves in some way, shape, or form. After they choose their topics the students take action, working with an organization or creating their own path to make the change they want to see.
Seeing what freshmen are capable of achieving at Oyster River is one of the few things that never ceases to amaze me. You never realize how much of an impact we as individuals can have on such pressing topics and issues that the world is faced with. This year 212 freshman raised $12,119, informed 13,851 people, volunteered 100 hours, and donated 4,024 items; and this was all done in just 12 weeks. Here are just three examples of projects that the class of 2020 completed.
Michael focused on the power of music education for his project. He says, “I really believe that there should be more music programs as there are many educational benefits, one of the benefits being a raise in SAT scores.” For his project Michael created many steps for change. He looked at bringing back the 4th grade music program in the elementary schools. He feels that it is an important program that the schools should reinstall into their systems. As fourth graders, children tend to have more time on their hands to pick up a new activity such as playing an instrument. Without the fourth grade music program, it appears that many will not begin playing an instrument in fifth grade as they transition into middle school. He also spoke with his classmates about the positive values of music education, wrote a letter to the ORCSD school board to request more funding for music programs, included advocacy information in music programs, investigated private fundraising ideas, and decided to petition NH legislators to advocate for more state and federal funding for music and arts. Michael believes that schools should begin focusing more of their time and resources on music programs. He enjoyed the project and felt that it turned out successfully. He says, “I enjoyed learning more about the topic and what we can do to improve.”
“I made an after school club at Moharimet Elementary School which was focused on climate change and environmental issues and what they as students can do to help,” Pavlik says. “It was hard and definitely nerve wracking to talk in front of so many people even though they were just kids, but it was fun to work with them.” She explained what climate change was and how it can affect different areas and ecosystems in the world as well as explaining renewable energy to the elementary students. One thing that Pavlik struggled with in the beginning was deciding on her action but once she figured out what she wanted to do she hit the ground running, gaining permission to begin her club at the elementary school. Pavlik says, “I [realized I] can do something to help with issues that I feel strongly about. I never would have considered creating a club or raising awareness without this project. It was also really cool to see what everyone else did to help with their specific issues.”
Elodie Mitchell and Sam Williams:
Mitchell and Williams teamed up to look at the schedule and homework load at ORHS to find any potential issues and how to fix the issues. For the school year of 2018-2019 ORHS will be looking at potentially making a change in their schedule. Mitchell says, “We are kind of the student voice right now. We developed a bunch of schedules and this Thursday we will be presenting our ideal schedule to the school board.” Looking through the most popular schedules in the nation Williams and Mitchell determined their favorite schedule to be all classes on Monday and then Tuesday through Friday as rotating block days.
Mitchell and Williams also examined how homework affects mental health. They received feedback from students, teachers, and parents. Williams says, “We interviewed many teachers throughout the school asking them why they give homework [and] what their philosophy is on homework. With our research and interviews we put together our own opinion on how we can adjust this and how can we regulate homework so that some people don’t have an hour while others just have 15 minutes of homework.” Mitchell and Williams both feel like ORHS gives a large amount of homework which they found can be bad for both physical and mental health in students.
Mitchell says,”I like this project and I feel like I will take away a lot from it because if the scheduling committee actually considers this schedule it’s going to affect us since we will be here in two years. We will feel the change which is I think why we chose this project in the first place.”