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Student Keynote Moments (Harborside Academy) - EL Education 2016 National Conference

On October 29th, 2016, students of Harborside Academy in Kenosha, Wisconsin shared how the ethic of service permeates school culture, serving as a foundation for their learning expeditions that contribute to their community through collaboration with senior citizens, veterans, and elementary students. Giving to their city in significant ways is a core part of Harborside academic work - at every grade level, every year. Harborside Academy is one of 24 EL Education Credentialed Schools in the nation. eleducation.org/news/nine-el-schools-receive-credentialing-distinction


- [Narrator] One of the things that makes me most proud to be part of the EL crew, is that we bring a different vision of how to motivate students to care. We believe that every student, every student, wants to contribute things of value to the world. There is no school in America that takes that vision more seriously than Harborside Academy in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

- Don’t dismiss service for the sake of losing academic rigor. They need to coexist. Don’t sacrifice what gives purpose to what you teach us, and what we want to learn. We are going to show you how at Harborside both academics and service coexist to create results all schools should strive for, because students can get smart to do good. Ethan, can you take us back to sophomore year?

- Sure, Khari. During sophomore year, I will experience an expedition that focuses on world conflict. It comes alive through essential lens, the eyes of US veterans. Let’s listen to Susan Elson, for example. The mother of a US Marine who sadly, did not make it home from his second deployment.

- It is true that Kristen had marines come to her door, she was actually expecting a friend to come over, they were gonna go out to the Y and do their work out. But then when she saw the Marines, her first reaction was, “Wow, our one year anniversary, and they’re here to bring me flowers.” And I went to the door and opened that front door, I knew they weren’t there to deliver flowers to me. I go to the door, I looked at all the guys on the front porch, slammed the door, and run away. I said, “We need to get over to Kristen,” because I knew here was this gal who had just turned 20 years old. She did not say one word that entire night, and just stared straight ahead.

- It’s through interviews like this, that I will learn far more about the impact of conflict than any textbook could ever teach me. We became passionate about telling the story of our veterans, to show our appreciation for their sacrifices.

- After one funeral, the daughter of that vet came to us and thanked us for creating the documentary of her father, because they played our work during his service. At that moment, we knew that the frustrations and the struggles we faced to produce the vision we wanted was worth it.

- The culminating event was a time for me to share my passions and appreciations with our veterans. Through my music, I share my interpretation of their struggles, and if you listen, the music tells a story.

- We ask that if you are currently serving, have served, or lost someone in your family from serving, please stand, so that we may recognize your sacrifice.

- Thank you for your sacrifice.

- When I was that Harborside emphasized service learning like this, this was that special something I was looking for

- Ethan, did you know that childhood obesity rates have more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents? The “Food for All” expedition grew from the roots of poverty and unhealthy eating in our community.

- The community heard our voice, and the local businesses donated five acres of land for Harborside to start a garden.

- If you want a real audience for student writing have them complete grant applications for issues they are passionate about.

- Through a successful grant application, we were able to build garden beds for our school. We worked with a local college to write a second grant to expand our efforts to 19 more elementary schools.

- By advocating for those who couldn’t afford them, we were able to get the market to accept SNAP, WIC, and farmer’s checks as means of payment.

- The education we gained by studying environmental sustainability, and environmental law issues has made it possible for my fellow graduates to continue establishing community and college gardens that extend to a national level.

- We are living the Harborside motto. Leave a place better than you find it.

- To often, our society tosses aside people that we feel can’t offer anything to us, the elderly, people who suffer from Alzheimer’s are often discarded. So, as senior students, we seek senior citizens and care givers to find answers to fundamental questions like, what makes up one’s humanity?

- In school, we learned about how the brain works, other forms of dementia, physics of movement, technology of brain scans, statistics of Alzheimer’s, and examined the current causes and treatment options for those living with the disease.

- We also create an art piece that is inspired by our senior partner’s life experiences. This art piece is then presented to our senior partner, or their family, as a final, parting gift. We learn that we all matter at every stage of our existence.

- Before we graduate, we do one final service piece for our senior project.

- For my senior project, I joined a group traveling to Ometepe, Nicaragua. Our mission was to build store intake to provide people access to clean water. We took part in cutting and bending rods to form the shape of the tank, and even made our own cement for the base. While there, I also asked a question. What can people back in the states do to help in situations such as Nicaragua? One local doctor told me, with tears in her eyes, “to give their time.” You see, because people can donate clothes, and shoes, and other items, and of course the people are always grateful, but what they need the most, is for your time and effort, to go to the problem, and find solutions.

- Thank you for listening why we, the students, teachers, and administrators of Harborside, believe service is the heart of education.

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