Citizenship, community, collaboration, creativity, innovation, and communication are just some of the core values of Evolutions, a project-based program for thirty juniors and seniors at the high school that meets four classes throughout the cycle.
Even before the school year started, Evolutions already began to shape their new community. Over the summer, the students watched Ted Talks, read articles, and listened to podcasts.
“All the work comes in different forms because they don’t believe in just reading words off a page and kind of gaining information. That way, it’s more engaging,” said Evolutions student, Bobbi Rockett ’22.
The students read the graphic novel Unflattening by Nick Sousanis. Students even got the chance to meet with Sousanis over Zoom.
“The author Nick Sousanis describes being ‘flat’ as having a one-dimensional view of the world. The process of unflattening is observing other perspectives and taking yourself out of the ‘norm’ in order to understand the world around you and other people with fuller understanding. That is one of the key core values of our project and just the program, in general, is working on unflattening ourselves and pieces of our identity,” said Rockett ’22.
Every subject that the students learn is based on their current project. Their first unit, called Younit, is based on learning about their identity and who they are as a person. In science, they are learning about how people genetically get their skin color and how it relates to race and an individual’s identity. In English, the students are writing about who they think they are as a person and are identifying ways they want to learn about themselves and hope to find new perspectives. In art class, they are using photography to represent their identity.
In history, students did an oral history of a family member of an older generation to understand how their identity shaped their life.
“For our history unit, we either interviewed our parents or grandparents. I interviewed my grandmother about how school was like in the early 1970s and how being a woman was rough back then because they had different expectations than now,” said Evolutions student, Charlie Cloaninger ’22.
With COVID-19 putting a stop to many usual activities, Evolutions is still trying to figure out ways to continue on their normal.
“Evolutions actually has an extra day. Usually, for the different cohorts, Cohort A will go in one day and Cohort B will go in on the other. But for Evolutions, we are lucky enough that everyone gets to go in on both Monday and Tuesday so that we have extra time with the rest of our community,” said Rockett.
Evolutions’ next unit is focused on building awareness to different causes, in a creative format.
“We started with Younit, which was all about the individual self. It progressed to, now what in the world do you care about? How do you help change the world around or bring awareness to the world around you through innovative and creative designing, but also through professional pitching and thinking about marketing,” said head teacher of Evolutions Thomas Henes.