Though in past years all seniors presented their four-year personal service-learning projects―Community Action Projects (CAP)―at a group showcase just prior to graduation, this year presentations have already begun with a new series of individual lunchtime forums.
“The showcase at the end of the year always created such a powerful buzz about service, and then we would all leave for summer break and it would be forgotten,” said Erica St. John, service and community engagement coordinator. “By having regular exposure to service and great projects with the lunch presentations, my hope is that our community thinks about service more often. Seniors can share their projects, generate that service buzz, and mentor younger students while they are still on campus.”
In mid-January, Jaya S. ’20 kicked off this new format with a presentation about her experience as an assistant teacher to children with learning differences and cerebral palsy in India. The presentation was attended by students, faculty, and even an alumna!
The visual element of the presentations is also being reinvented with project websites replacing old-school poster boards. In addition to the added value of including video and interactive elements on websites, students can also submit their websites as part of their college applications.
Director of College Counseling Lynn O’Grady said, “As the Westridge motto states so well, our students are living lives of impact in truly significant ways. If it’s true that a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine the possibilities of what can be communicated through websites and videos beyond the Westridge community. This new digital platform showcases the depth and breadth of service that has been done over the last four years.”
Because this is a transition year, featured seniors will present their projects in the upcoming lunch talks, while those who chose the poster option will share their work on April 28. Some of the projects the community can look forward to learning about in the lunch talks include Juliane Z. ’20, who teaches English to orphans in Colombia and Nepal via Skype, Jay K. ’20, who designed her own tools to help people with developmental disabilities write and draw (read more about her project here), and Reese O. ’20 and Abby Y. ’20, who took over leadership of Camp Curie, a Community Action Project created by another Westridge student in 2017 that provides a free science camp for young girls to inspire passion for the sciences.