Starling FOCUS students change their world with service projects

Starling FOCUS students change their world with service projects

By Darlene Bartik, FOCUS Teacher, Starling Elementary

Starling Elementary School’s 5th grade FOCUS (gifted education) students are reaching out to their community through their involvement in a year-long independent service project. (Students researched service options online at home with their families.) The Changing Our World at Starling, or C.O.W.S., project challenged students to explore the worldwide contributions of similar-aged peers, select a cause of personal interest, and apply the CPS (Creative Problem Solving) process and research skills in order to develop a plan of action to make an impact on their chosen cause. This spring, these students will be making a difference in their neighborhoods, communities, and the world as they carry out their plans with the collaborative support of local businesses, churches, school, neighbors, and family members.

While it is impossible to list all the projects, the causes these students chose and the means by which they plan to support their cause are as varied as the interests, talents, and abilities of the students themselves. Here are just a few of the causes and projects planned:
  • Local support: Several students are supporting agencies and organizations that work with homeless families in the area. They are raising money and awareness by holding an afterschool jump-a-thon, organizing a Saturday bike-a-thon in the park, creating and selling a student-authored book, and coordinating a neighborhood bake sale. Another child decided to collect food, money, and clothing donations for Atlanta’s flood victims.
  • Health issues and hospitals: One student will be collecting student artwork to decorate a local hospital’s children’s leukemia ward. Two students teamed together to sponsor a schoolwide Penny Harvest. The proceeds will be shared equally to purchase toys for the children’s wing of a local hospital and to support a family outreach organization. A child will be launching a schoolwide campaign to reduce childhood obesity. Another student will make and sell homemade bookmarks, with proceeds supporting research to help find a cure for sickle cell anemia,
  • Animal shelters: Several students chose to support local animal shelters by holding pet food drives at school and at a local church as well as collecting fleece material they will use to make pet blankets.
  • Global causes: Two students will be organizing a Fun Run and a lollipop sale to raise money to donate to an organization to purchase mosquito netting to help prevent the spread of malaria in Sierra Leone and one will be organizing a clean-up day in his neighborhood. One child will help save the Kookaburras from extinction, and another will be sending care packages to service members overseas.

The fundraising ideas and public awareness plans these outstanding young people have designed are heartfelt. It is impossible to describe the time, effort, and love each has poured out as they strive to make a difference in their school, community, and our world.

Each of Ms. Bartik's students decided on a project to help make a difference in the community. For instance, one student designed and sold bookmarks to raise funds for her cause. Another student held a dog food drive at a local pet store to benefit Society of Humane Friends.