Renaissance Academy Senior Projects: Making a Difference in the World

Renaissance Academy Senior Projects: Making a Difference in the World
Posted on 11/06/2013
Ian Smith Installing Stoves in Guatemala

PHOENIXVILLE, PA – On Friday, November 1st, 2013, seniors at the Renaissance Academy Charter School presented their Commencement Projects which culminated four years of personal investment and over 1800 collective hours of service in the community.

Academy students begin their senior projects in 9th grade.  The objective of these projects is to provide graduating seniors with an authentic learning experience outside the classroom where they find the opportunity to think critically and communicate effectively.  Each project is initiated by a personal interest, supported by self-directed research, and resulted in a uniquely formulated presentation.

Claire Powers, Senior Project Coordinator at Renaissance Academy reported that she was impressed by the diversity of the senior commencement projects this year.  Some students focused their projects locally at Mainline Animal Rescue, and Great Valley Nature Center, the Elmwood Zoo, Senior Adult Activity Center, Habitat for Humanity, the Police Athletic League, the Ryerss Farm, Hospitality House, Kitty Cottage and ARC.  Others reached out to churches, synagogues, day shelters and senior centers; while several students ran blood drives, dance recitals, and organized concerts so that all children could have the opportunity to play an instrument.

A group of students travelled internationally to Costa Rica and Guatemala to work in orphanages and rebuild schools while some housing rehab was done stateside in both Wilmington, North Carolina and Norristown, PA.

Many of the seniors in the class of 2014 focused on childhood cancer while volunteering their time at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Relay for Life, and “Beating Cancer with a Bat” as well as organizing events to support research for Breast Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, and AIDS.

In addition, students took the lead to investigate and promote awareness of fire safety, how we can better support our Wounded Warriors and gave their time to encourage health and exercise programs at the YMCA.  Some seniors worked inside Renaissance Academy, promoting tolerance while establishing a gay-straight alliance.  Additional resources were secured for the Renaissance Spanish department by a student fundraising for new research materials. Several seniors made connections with children with special needs, struggling families, and lonely elderly members of the community.

For his senior project, Ian J. Smith spent four days in Guatemala installing stoves in homes where the families had been cooking outside over a fire.  “The gratitude of the families was overwhelming”, said Ian.  He said that his experience has given him a better understanding of what true poverty is in the world.  Ian feels that the trip was the best thing he has ever done in his life and it has fostered a passion to do more for others in the future.  He said that completing this project has taught him that “being able to serve other people is truly a great gift.”

Mrs. Powers summed up the day by saying, “For anyone who has ever doubted the abilities of the next generation to have a positive impact on the greater community, you should meet these awesome students of the Renaissance Academy class of 2014. These individuals have reinforced the hope that everyone has the power to change this world.”