For years Santa Monica has been involved with helping the homeless, and is becoming increasingly concerned with recycling electronics. For the past month Advanced Placement (AP) students from Santa Monica High School (SAMOHI) also have been working with these issues, while participating in the AP Challenge program.
The program is in its second year and is partnered with the School District and the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce. The Co-chair of the Chamber’s Business-Education Committee, Nancy Schmidt, said that the program’s key goal is to help make the students “thoughtful engaged citizens that can make a difference.”
The students, with help from their teachers, planned to work on a current issue of their choice. They were given an opportunity to work on a cause in an interdisciplinary way, with help from Chamber members whose businesses specialize in the issues. For students working with the homeless, the business they were paired with was OPCC and those involved with electronic recycling were partnered with California Recycles.
The culminating event of the program was a presentation given last week to a community panel, which was also each participating student’s final exam. Schmidt noted that after the homelessness presentation, “Everyone on the panel walked away feeling positive, optimistic and impressed with the quality of the students in the school.”
AP English teacher Pete Barraza’s class’s objectives were to reduce homelessness and to raise awareness. The class divided into several groups to tackle different aspects of the problems.
One group made a documentary about the reality of homelessness and how OPCC deals with the issue. Other students organized a demonstration that will take place this week on the Third Street Promenade to raise community awareness about homelessness. The demonstration will feature students holding cardboard signs with statistics about homelessness. The signs were inspired by the cardboard signs many of the homeless use to ask for food, money or shelter.
The students at the high school also held a brown bag campaign.
They asked students to make their lunch at home and donate the money they would have used to buy lunch to OPCC. They also came up with a fund raising idea: the creation and sale of t-shirts to benefit OPCC.
Another vehicle the students use to raise awareness among their peers concerning homelessness and OPCC is the social networking site Facebook. They also created an on-campus organization to continue their work on homelessness.
AP Chemistry teacher Martha Diaz Chacon told the Mirror that her class chose to work on electronic recycling and found through their research that “most people don’t recycle because it’s inconvenient.” They also learned that most “people don’t know it’s illegal to dump electronics in the trash.” But perhaps the most important thing they discovered was that the School District does not have a policy on electronic recycling.
Her class’s presentation asked School Superintendent Tim
Cuneo to develop a District policy for electronic recycling. He responded by asking the District’s Chief Academic Officer Sally Chou to write a policy which will be presented to the School Board for their review this summer.
The AP Chemistry students also organized an electronic recycling drive at the high school on June 7, which collected 14,000 pounds of recyclable items.