Evolution’s first unit, “Younit,” was all about students exploring their identity, beliefs, values, and their role within their communities. A big part of Evolutions is to make sure the class becomes a team that can collaborate effectively. To finish up this unit, the students had to put their identity onto a canvas.

“Even though [the portraits] are on a two-dimensional surface, it is a two-dimensional perspective of oneself and their identity. Part of the process was the students going out onto the football field and standing in the middle of our community and saying ‘This is who I am, this is what I believe, this is what I hope to achieve this year, here are my goals this year,” said Evolutions program director, Thomas Henes, “then stand up in front of their peers and say, ‘I’m going to let down my guard and state who I am.’ It was a really powerful moment.”

In past years, Evolutions has made a community tree, where each student has a branch and leaves to represent their various identities. Once complete, the tree represents the community and unity of the program. This year, however, the students were not able to create a tree due to COVID-19, so instead, they used individual portraits. 

In their new unit, Design With a Why, students broaden their scope of thinking and self-identity, to consider what in the world they feel passionate about and how they can bring awareness to a specific cause in a creative manner. Their new unit focuses on designing a shoe that brings awareness to their chosen cause.

“It is similar to the NFL program, My Cause, My Cleats… This is a unit we have been working on for a couple of years. It is a great unit for us because it allows us to partner with some larger experts within this community and the Boston community,” said Evolutions art teacher, Brian Corey.

Additionally, the unit focuses on teamwork and collaboration skills between students. It challenges students, working in groups of three, to choose only one group member’s chosen topic. Then, they work together as a group to create a project pitch and determine what marketing strategies will be effective for designing their shoe. Each group will also create an infographic explaining how their shoe represents their cause. 

Evolutions is partnering with York Athletics, a shoe company based out of Boston. York Athletics will be part of the panel that the groups will pitch their shoe and infographic to, so the students will have opportunities to get real feedback from professionals in the fashion industry. 

“York Athletics just had a campaign where they focus on shoes with a cause for homelessness in Boston. They have experience as they have also worked with Ali Raisman and her causes, so it is so valuable for our students to actually present their work to people whose opinions are valid,” said Henes. 

Evolutions is also partnering with the director of the fashion and entrepreneurship program at Babson College and a student who previously started up a streetwear and sneaker business. They will also be on the panel.

Evolutions student Hannah Wagner ’22, has been planning on what to research for her shoe. 

“I took the business and entrepreneurship class last year and I am familiar with the design process of coming up with a product. I think it is pretty cool that I am able to incorporate my knowledge from last year into this as well,” said Wagner. 

Throughout the design challenge, the class will focus on certain skills that the students will use for the remainder of the year, such as strengthening their research process, design technology, pitching techniques, proposal writing, branding campaigns, press releases, and public speaking. The students will present to the panel on December 8. 

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