Creating better people out of the students at Bashaw School is part of the educational process right along with how well the kids learn the basics.
“Service is a word that summarizes the community of Bashaw. Whether it is participation in one of the many service organizations, volunteering at one of the many sporting, 4-H and community events or simply helping a neighbour, this community thrives because service is the cornerstone,” explained principal Myranda Shepherd.
“While curriculum is a focus, it is the character development that will serve our students well in the future. Service is a tenant of what we do every day and as a staff, we are always looking for ways to offer opportunities for service.”
Two teachers — Amanda Swedberg and Kyle McIntosh — have developed projects within their subject areas that have grown into much more than simply humanities classes.
“They provided the foundation for future citizens to be committed and active in their communities, be it Bashaw or beyond,” Shepherd added.
For Swedberg, it was about challenging her students to find something they care about, not something adults would choose or something someone else felt they should care about.
“But, something they themselves actually want to create change around. This sounds like it should have been an easy task, but it proved to be difficult for some students,” stated Swedberg.
“In Grade 10 and 11, we started with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi — ‘We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him… We need not wait to see what others do.’ — The idea of mirroring the world, and being better by doing better was a common theme as we worked on projects in class.”
The topics the student chose were varied — GMOs, ADHD, animal abuse, self-image, modelling — and brought to light subjects such as Snapchat depression and redefining beauty, giving blood and clean water, mental health and stereotypes. The students then were able to present their ideas to the school and community on Jan. 21.
There were other students that went the extra mile to help their causes.
A pair of Grade 12 students asked that all students give $2 on Feb. 13 for their Charity Water fundraiser — with the funds going toward building sustainable, clean water sources. These students believe the world water crisis can end in their lifetime if people like them just care enough to bring the issue to light and do something about it.
Meanwhile, two other students got help from the community with a video that has hit more than 4,500 views on social media. The pair are using the #BeautyIsMore campaign to bring about change in how beauty is defined.
Their goal is that a whole generation of women could simply enjoy the things they love without constantly worrying about living up to the standards of our current definition of beauty. The comments generated have been very powerful.
The growth that I witnessed in our students, the way they could fundamentally disagree on a topic and yet, by the end, could respectfully see other points of view without feeling they had to change their own, is about all I could ever ask of them,” Swedberg added.
“They have made huge gains in articulating their thoughts, finding their passion and following a plan of action — all things that will transfer into whatever roles they take on after high school. They are also learning how to see that there are multiple perspectives in every situation, and that by them caring even just a little bit, they can make a huge impact on themselves and others.”