YPI: The Sun Shines on Sundrops

Wednesday, February 04, 2015 - By: David McCarthy

Our Grade 9 class has all the traditional subjects on its timetable plus one that focuses on the skills and attitudes we believe will equip students well as citizens of an increasingly connected and complex world. 21st Century Studies infuses information technology skills into a primarily project-based curriculum which focuses on global issues, often using a local context.

A prime example is our participation in the Youth Philanthropy Initiative, a Canada-wide project sponsored by the Toskan Foundation. Students must investigate a charity of their choice by researching and going out to visit them, interviewing volunteers and workers in local organizations that range from food banks to hospices. They then collaborate within each group to produce a presentation developing media and public speaking skills.

The four Grade 9 classes each select the best presentation team to represent them in the finals, where a panel of student and staff judges assess them as they deliver their presentations to a crowded Lecture Hall.

The Toskan Foundation provide the criteria for judging but most importantly expect that students will convey their message (on why their particular charity deserves to win a $5000 cheque) with clarity and compassion. A representative of the Foundation, again a volunteer, attends to offer advice and to ensure that the spirit of the gift they provide is observed. Students come away from this experience knowing more about themselves and about others. They have a deeper understanding of society and its problems and some sense of how individuals can cooperate to ameliorate the lives of others. 

Our winners this year represented the Sundrops Centre for Child Development, a charity that provides support for young children with developmental disabilities. They did a superb job of providing a multimedia presentation, complete with industry standard print material, to illustrate their case. To be able to connect their studies with a real-world experience and actually make a positive difference in other children's lives as a result of their work, in our view, epitomizes the concept of a truly authentic 21st Century learning experience.

Congratulations to all our Grade 9s who participated in this event and to our winning team of Julia S, Aidan M, Nikolas C & Aleah G. They have done us proud.

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