WATSONVILLE — Sixth-graders at Monte Vista Christian School were hard at work this week in preparation for the annual Make A Change Project Showcase, held on Wednesday at the school’s campus in Watsonville.
Now in its fourth year, “Make A Change” aims to give students a chance to learn about real world issues and take action on those that are meaningful to them. Students work in groups, choosing an issue they recognize needs to be addressed in the community.
“Throughout the year, the students learn about ancient history and how societies change over time,” said social studies instructor Rodney Stanton. “Then they apply it to modern times, asking, how can we change our own world?”
Stanton said that the projects help the students be more engaged with society. Working with nonprofit organizations such as Jacob's Heart Children's Cancer Support Services and Save Our Shores, they learn about how they can make a difference.
“This is big for them,” said Timothy Peters, teacher of language arts and Bible studies at Monte Vista. “Going out into the community, getting exposure to new things. It’s truly exciting to be part of.”
Fellow students and teachers filed into the room on Wednesday, where the sixth-graders had set up each of their homemade displays.
ABOVE: Brianna Ortiz (left) and Joleen Mendoza show their display about "The Giving Tree." (Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)
The team of Joleen Mendoza and Brianna Ortiz gave their presentation, which explained their project in delivering gifts to young cancer patients and their families. The girls worked with Jacob's Heart to gift everything from food to toys, bought with their own money.
“It made me realize how fortunate I am,” Mendoza said. “And that we can do something that makes a difference for others.”
“It feels really good to help people,” she said.
Across the room, Steve Towle spoke about the project he and classmate Aliyah Navarro worked on with Aegis Living, entitled “Elder Peeps.” The two of them volunteered at the senior community in Aptos, helping with various activities and spending time with the residents.
“I liked watching their faces brighten up when they saw my assignment,” Towle said. “I feel really privileged to be part of this event.”
Later in the day, eighth-graders who had been involved in “Make A Change” a couple of years ago stopped by to check out their younger classmates’ projects. Stanton said he hoped the project stayed with the students for years to come.
“It’s been a journey for them,” he said. “And I think this will have a big effect on them in the future.”