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Building Community Through Community Projects

Likds aying attention in libraryEighth-grade students at Somers Middle School held their first Community Project meeting. These projects are part of the International Baccalaureate MYP program. Last year, the project ran as a pilot with a small group of students, but this year, the entire grade is participating. 

“If we’re helping the community then we’re basically helping our classmates, our families, and ourselves because it’s our community. It’s where we live,” said Maria Berwa.

Students reviewed a brief outline of the steps involved in completing their projects, as well as filled out a survey about their interests such as art, landscaping, social media, family, photography, and cooking, among others. They also listed the community needs they were most interested in, such as working with, such as with children, the elderly, the environment, or animal rights.

“There’s a lot of good options so it’s hard to choose just one,” Maria said about deciding which direction to pursue with her community project. 

The students can request friends they might like to work with in small groups, or they may choose to work independently to complete their projects. “Working with friends and helping out the community are my two highlights,” said Hana Kamenickova. Maria added that “coming up with an idea we all agree on and then actually getting it done,” will be a challenging aspect of the project. 

The community project is designed with the IB learner profile in mind, helping students develop their communication and risk-taking skills while being open-minded and caring about their local and global communities. Students are encouraged to reach outside their comfort zones and explore something that interests them. Students receive mentor support from their faculty advisor to guide them along the way throughout the year, culminating in a presentation in May.