When a project goes through all its stages and students see how ideas and mechanisms can shift over the course of a process, education reaches its ideal. By recognizing that one must be flexible in one’s thinking, reflect on strengths and weaknesses, and then continue being consistent while also adjusting to make improvements, students learn what so often takes place in the professional world. Few people, if any, come up with an idea and implement it to perfection on the very first try, so it is imperative that students learn about process and how to plan, act, reflect, and revisit so that, when it comes time to “go live,” the pieces put in place are honed and those who put those pieces there are thoroughly familiar and prepared to work with their plans in an informed and adept manner.
Such has been WHSAD Y-Plan’s team in implementing a school-wide recycling program. Mentored by Ms. Cahill and Ms. Tom, Seniors in this class have been tasked with investigating how to launch the plan, putting their plans into practice, and then considering what went well and what could be done better. Their efforts have been noticeable throughout the school as more WHSAD students are cognizant of what goes in the blue and green bins, but such learning did not come about overnight. Y-Plan students were able to observe the hurdles of a plan when you release some amount of control and how a new initiative will endure growing pains.
Below some Y-Plan students and teachers share their thoughts with student correspondent Antonio Perez about the projects and yesterday’s event that celebrated the achievements reached this year.
Harold and Larry said, “The event was about us presenting our project that we worked on in class about Fidelity Triangle and recycling throughout the whole year. We would go to classes we were assigned and take out their blue bins. Then we would take it out to the hallway and dump it in a larger bin. Then we would take out the ones that you could recycle for $0.05, and we would donate those cans and bottles to some lady in the street that needs money. Also, we went to Fidelity Triangle, which started off with nothing, but we turned it into something much better. We redesigned it, put some plants in it, and it looks more pretty. At the event we saw other schools that did the project, and we met people from Y-Plan. It was all good and was a great experience.”
Laury and Kenrick said, “Some people from the Y-Plan class went to a summit to talk to all the other people and we met two superintendents. We were showing them what we did with our time and planning for the Y-Plan. They do this every year with the Y plan class because they want to broadcast the kids’ work and how their efforts make the community better. Also they want to find a way to make funds to keep the program going so they can continue to see bright young minds putting forth the best effort that they can and be the future as they tell us to be. At the Y-Plan conference we met up with other schools that did recycling and sustainability, while others did projects related to mental health. We had two split projects: Fidelity Triangle, which is with the Department of Transportation and recycling, which is currently in the school now. We enjoyed our time there, and they enjoyed our projects. We got to meet new people, and our social skills improved.”
Guadalupe and Evelyn said, “The event was a presentation of what we did at Y-Plan, and we met up with all the other schools in New York that participated in the same class. I like how we got to see what other schools also part of Y-Plan. It makes students a bigger part of the community when they participate in events like this and just shows how Y-Plan should extend to other schools. Y-Plan is done every year in the school, and then you go and present your final project.”
Ms. Tom & Ms. Cahill said, “This event was the Y-Plan summit and it’s where students in the Y-Plan class present the projects they’ve been working on all year to other schools, the superintendency, and partners of different schools. Participating in events like this get students involved in the community and actually gives them a first hand taste of how government and the process of getting things done works. It’s all about politics and they’ve been on both sides of that, even with the Fidelity Triangle redesign they learned that it’s all about networking with who can get things done right. Y-Plan is done in 12th Grade Economics & Government and Environmental Science classes, and we’ve paired up so we have the same group of kids in both classes. They sit for a double period and this way, when we want to take them for a trip, we just leave. We had two projects: last year we focused on recycling with Ms. Tom’s Y-Plan class and we’re now in Phase 2. Phase 3 will roll out to the whole school in September. Every class will have the recycling bins. Fidelity Triangle started this year with the redesign, and next year we’re going to partner with Assemblyman Lentol’s office and try to to get it continued. The kids actually chose Fidelity Triangle this year because for community service we went and they noticed that the intersection was dangerous and that people were going the wrong way down a one way street. They proposed to the Department of Transportation to do a redesign and they’re actually going to close down the street so that they incorporate a little sitting area or a green space.”