Students at Chilliwack Secondary School are taking steps to make changes in their community on issues they’re passionate about.
Last week, the teens gathered in the school’s grand hall to display their completed Taking Action projects.
It’s a “student-centred inquiry project wherein students identify an issue that is important to them, research that issue, and take action to create positive change,” said teacher Nicole McCall.
She, along with fellow teacher Rebecca Palansky, created the project as a way to remind kids that, even during challenging times, they have the ability to make positive change.
Some students worked by themselves, others formed groups, and a few projects involved an entire class. The topics varied greatly and include: drug abuse, pollution, river cleanup, housing crisis and men’s mental health.
Grade 12 students Finn Stoner, Agnieszka Reyes, Janice Canela and Daichi Yuasa worked on their project, Untold History, which focused on residential schools.
After researching the topic, they showed 2009 documentary Shi-Shi-Etko to their class. The film is about a six-year-old Indigenous girl who has only four days before she is taken to residential school; each day she spends with a family member who reminds her of the importance of remembering who she is.
They then asked their fellow students to write down what they knew about residential schools.
Not only do they want to bring awareness to their classmates, but to the general public as well. The group made dozens of orange wooden hearts which will be hung along the school’s fence for people passing by to see.
When Palansky asked the group if they think Canada is doing enough to teach people about the history of residential schools, all four students shook their heads.
“The bare minimum,” Janice said.
They all agreed that more awareness and more teachings are needed.
Theirs was just one of about 50 projects on display in the school on Thursday, Jan. 20. Not only were the topics themselves different, but the way the students initiated their projects also varied.
One group brought awareness to missing and murdered Indigenous women by creating paintings. Another project resulted in the creation of the Mental Health Matters Club at the school. A different group supported hungry students at the school and, additionally, volunteered with the Chilliwack Bowls of Hope Society. And trio of girls took on Fill-A-Stocking where they collected Christmas gifts for students at the school in need.
“The one thing that they all have in common is they were identifying an issue that’s important to them and taking some sort of positive action towards changing that issue,” McCall said.
Grade 12 students Patrick Moran, Eliott Bibeau and Ty Dresen created the Console Gaming Club.
Over the last two years, Patrick said he’s missed being able to sit down with friends and play video games together in person.
The three started the club to “help bring people together and make some new friends and have a good time,” Patrick said.
The Console Gaming Club runs at lunchtime twice a week in one of the computer labs.
Eliott said it’s been “humble beginnings” so far, but the reactions from fellow gaming students has been positive and they’re hoping with some advertising more people will join.
“For them to have an opportunity to be active in their community and create positive change and now to celebrate it, it’s a really great thing to have all the kids be able to experience,” Palansky said of all the students.
“I think they feel empowered when they realize that they can make change even if it’s just a small change, and that’s the main reason why we wanted to do this project.”