RA Class of 2021 Senior Commencement Projects

Seniors Helping the Community, Near and Far
Posted on 09/29/2020
Ijiah Smith, RA Class of '21

PHOENIXVILLE, PA – On Friday, September 25, 2020, 60 seniors from the Renaissance Academy (RA)) Class of 2021 presented their Commencement Projects which culminated four years of personal investment and over 1500 collective hours of service in the community.

 Renaissance Academy students begin their senior project journey 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 create a positive impact on society.  Each project is launched by a personal interest, supported by self-directed research, and then results in a uniquely formulated presentation.

 Notably, the 2021 project presentations were held a little differently due to the current Corona Virus social restrictions.  Instead of speaking in a school classroom, seniors presented their projects via live Google Meetings.

 This year, also due to the COVID limitations, the seniors needed to get a little more creative in how they facilitated their service hours.  Claire Powers, Senior Project Coordinator at Renaissance Academy said, “These projects have inspired me like no other year. Not only because of the impact the students had on people in their community, but also how they boldly reached beyond their comfort zone in uncertain times.  These seniors have managed to plan, execute, and at times, cancel and scramble to make a much-needed connection in the community.”

 Senior, Jack Duchossois, needed to change his traditionally live-hosted event into a virtual 5K during which participants could run, walk or bike where they were to promote the importance of community and exercise. He invited students, staff, family members, and community members to register for this event over the Labor Day weekend.  Although the event was free, pledge donations were encouraged. Over 40 families and community members participated in the 5K and $750 was raised to support RA Concussion Impact Testing, along with the purchase of additional Automated External Defibrillators for the school.

 Other seniors “masked-up” and used COVID safety measures so that they were able to continue their service hours in person.  Over the summer, Ijiah Smith worked with a local Norristown agency to collect, sort, box, and ship basic living items to the women and children of the community.  Ijiah’s passion is helping mothers acquire the education and necessities essential to the health of their babies.  Her hope is to one day become a mid-wife where she would be able to provide hands-on support and guidance for mothers.

 Some students reached out to local shelters like Good Samaritan Shelter, The House, and Ann's Heart Code Blue Shelter while others traveled to other parts of the world to help communities of need in Costa Rica and St Lucia.  Student's assisted neighbors and classmates in adjusting to the demands of the pandemic, even going as far as manufacturing and donating the much-needed Personal Protection Equipment for healthcare workers.  They took what they were passionate about and reached out to impact homelessness, mental health, personal safety, mother and child welfare, community wellness, human rights, and much more.

 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 civic-minded students of the Renaissance Academy class of 2021. These individuals have reinforced the hope that everyone, regardless of age, has the power to change this world.”

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