Middle- and high-school students from seven schools in Allegheny County, Pa., have been learning about mental health disorders and how to promote mental health awareness during Pittsburgh Cares' Stand Together project. Students from five of the schools recently presented their work at a local center. Students from one high school created a "truth booth," where students wrote anonymous messages about their feelings for the next visitor to read, and hosted a lunch event to encourage students to eat with classmates they didn't know.
Nearly 300 eighth-graders from Mars Middle School in Pennsylvania recently worked together in social studies and language arts classes to research and recommend prominent African-American figures for a Mount Rushmore-like monument. Some students built monument models to include their nominees' faces for the project, which observes the 2015 opening of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. "You can tell that they put [in] a lot of time out of the classroom. The students were highly engaged," said social studies teacher Jason Thompson.
A group of 15 students from seven secondary schools have proposed that Pittsburgh Public Schools adopt 10 items for a student bill of rights. In meetings with about 80 students, the group drew up their list with the first right being the freedom to express themselves, while they also seek the "right to a socially, emotionally and physically safe and positive school climate," among other proposed rights.
The Neighborhood Learning Alliance this summer trained 30 teenagers to work as "Reading Warriors" who tutor and mentor young children in various programs throughout the city. The Pittsburgh-based nonprofit selected the teenagers based on interviews coordinated through their schools. "Our kids want to break stereotypes and show the community that they can be forces for good," said Amy Baumgardner, a co-director of the alliance.
Students in Carol Hines' first-grade class at Farmersville Elementary School in Pennsylvania spent last year learning geography, letter-writing skills, history and patriotism through a pen-pal project with Marine Lance Cpl. Timothy Cassidy, who spent most of that time deployed to Afghanistan. Cassidy, a 20-year-old neighbor of Hines', exchanged letters and phone calls with the students and recently visited the classroom, where he answered questions about his uniform, the war and other subjects, including SpongeBob SquarePants.