Bringing a change to Oakwood
DI team uses its project to make a difference in its community
The members of Be the Change, Oakwood Elementary School’s Destination ImagiNation team, have worked together in for the past three years.
During that time the team has seen great success, finishing as high as 14th at the Global Finals, which are held annually in Knoxville, Tenn.
But it’s the work the team has already done and will continue doing right in its own school that could be its greatest accomplishment to date.
For its project this year, the team organized the week-long Kindness Week, centered around doing away with bullying, and culminating in an all-school assembly on Friday, Feb. 1. Each day throughout the week had a different theme for students and staff. Monday was Say Hi to Someone Day; Tuesday was Smile Day; Wednesday Sit With Someone New Day; Thursday Compliment Day; and Friday Change Day.
Since the final theme of the week might have been a little confusing, Principal Dennis Grasmick summed it up for the students: “Whatever you do and however you act can make a difference.”
And a difference is exactly what the seven members of Be the Change set out to do when they started their DI project last fall.
The team was charged with the task of identifying a community need and coming up with a way to engage that community and make a positive change within it.
“When we were thinking about the community need we chose bullying because it had been a problem,” team member Luke Polum said.
Once they had their topic picked out, the real work could start. The team met every Friday, along with some Sundays and Tuesdays, beginning in early October. They divvied up the responsibility of making a bracelet for each student at the school (524 in all). Then they created a pledge for their fellow students to sign essentially stating that they wouldn’t take part in bullying. Then they wrote up surveys to give out both before and after the week. And finally they devised a series of skits to help their schoolmates see how they should and should not handle bullying.
As Kindness Week was in full swing, the team delivered morning announcement to remind the students what the theme of the day was. Team members said that the work they were doing really struck home when the saw and heard it in action.
“I heard a lot of people saying ‘hi’ to a lot of other people on my walk to school,” Grace Kyllo said.
On other days team members noted that they saw students giving compliments to other students and cafeteria workers making sure everybody had somebody new at their lunch table.
The work done by the team and the Oakwood community in general wasn’t lost on some of the parents that were on hand for the assembly.
“It’s pretty amazing to see,” said one mother. “It’s fascinating to watch that this is all them.”
“The impact that it’s having on the younger kids is pretty great,” added a father.
Next up for Be the Change will be the state Destination ImagiNation competition, hopefully followed up with another trip to Globals. After that, Grasmick has invited the team to come back up and perform another set of skits for the students.
Members of the Be The Change team include fifth grade students Grace Kyllo, Lindsay Tapper, Katie Polum, Jonas Waskosky, Cole Hartman, Luke Polum and Nirali Somia. The team is coached by parent volunteers Therese Polum and Andrea Hartman.
Contact Jared Huizenga at firstname.lastname@example.org