Pamela Wright, dean of Social Justice and Community Partnerships, created an independent study called the Social Justice Capstone one year ago. Students devise year-long projects that benefit local non-profit organizations. The class is offered exclusively to seniors, and they all choose a nonprofit organization to aid and support.
From raising money to spreading awareness, the students promote solutions to social issues, ranging from environmentalism to mass incarceration to mental health advocacy. The class is taught outside of school rather than a traditional classroom, which allows students to center their focus around a certain area of interest.
Wright said the class is an opportunity for students to learn workplace skills because she requires students to work with volunteers from the organizations.
Last year was the first year Wright taught the class. Wright said she was proud of how the Class of 2019 worked throughout the year to finalize their projects.
“Last year’s project was exceptional, despite the fact that it was a pilot year,” Wright said.
Wright still saw room for improvement, so she instituted changes for the 2019-2020 school year.
“I would want to change the scheduling of the class,” Wright said. “I would like to give the class its own period so that students wouldn’t have to work outside of the regular school day.”
This year, there are seven seniors enrolled in the class. Nicole ’20 has been helping a rehabilitation center called Beit T’Shuvah. Like other students working on the Capstone, she said she is passionate about social justice work.
“Our lives often get extremely hectic with school and other extracurriculars, so it is typical for people to not have time for continuing their social justice work,” Nicole said. “I think the Capstone is the most ideal platform to be able to continue making a change.”
Similarly to Nicole, Peyton ’20 is also a social justice advocate. Peyton is working with Alexandria House, a transitional home for homeless women and children. She decided to enroll in the class because the Capstone not only gives her a purpose to continue social justice work but a means to as well.
“The Capstone enables me to understand the work done to help end homelessness, and it also gives me a platform to raise awareness,” Peyton said.
Wright and the seniors said they look forward to what the Capstone projects may bring. The combination of activism, advocacy and benefiting an important cause all create excitement for the coming year of the Social Justice Capstone projects.