Junior class projects exceed academics
English teacher Sarah McQuery had been teaching project management at Peabody-Burns for three years, but she wanted a new focus for 2019.
“What better way help our community and get our kids out there making an effort than to set a theme for the project,” she said. The kids got really excited and ran with it.”
Another project from previous classes was working with the Peabody Museum, but McQuery said she wanted a topic with more long-term effects.
“The biggest advantage is that this is real,” she said. “The museum was real, but they got a grade and then could forget about it. I wanted to do something that the students would have physical evidence.”
The junior class was split into six groups with three or four students each, and projects ranging from a dog park proposal to a garden for Peabody-Burns middle schoolers.
The students had five weeks to design, propose and complete projects, so most groups chose to lay the groundwork for future classes, McQuery said.
One group limited by the schedule included Lindsey Frye. Her group chose a community garden as their focus, but stopped after the proposal stage because of the time limitations.
“We don’t have enough time to follow through with it, but our idea is that future classes can carry on the project,” she said.
While the scale of the garden is proposed for 40’x20’, there is the possibility of expansion since it’s an ongoing project, McQuery said.
“It will be a fairly small garden compared to some, but they might change the size depending on what next year’s group decides,” she said.
An advantage of the garden is that it can influence positive interactions between residents, and good eating habits, Lindsey said.
“It’s a good way for people to get healthy, safe food,” she said. “It’s something to bring the community together, to share ideas and knowledge.”
One benefit is that students can set their own goals, instead of being bound by a rubric, McQuery said.
“I didn’t set any expectations for them,” she said. “They had to figure out what they wanted to accomplish in the five weeks.”
Not all students chose to stay in Peabody. Madelaine Beil and her group mates wanted to clean Burns’ park and paint equipment, but it came with challenges.
“We’re not sure if we’ll get it done in time because of the weather,” she said. “There are also some advantages. If we get it done then we don’t have to rely on other classes.”
“We didn’t really think about it, which we probably should have,” she said. “We definitely thought about it when we got there and it started raining.”
With the amount of work available at the park, it’s convenient that the group can focus on other aspects, Madelaine said.
“If something happens and we’re not able to paint anything then there are so many other things we can do,” she said.
One obstacle the group might not be able to overcome is transportation, Madelaine said.
“We thought it was going to be easy and didn’t know it would be a problem,” she said.
Last modified May 9, 2019