By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – Students at Shrewsbury High School are working to become “changemakers” – to work actively to affect positive social change.
English teacher Kelly Lawlor came up with the idea for the Changemaker Project as a learning opportunity for her 10th-grade honors English classes.
“Thanks to a Shrewsbury Education Foundation (SEF) grant, students have been working on this year-long service learning endeavor where the overall focus of the project is for students to create positive change within our community,” she said
The genesis was when the students read a book last summer called “Unwind” as part of their summer reading. It was a dystopian novel where the protagonist wanted to create positive change and move society forward.
“We started with that intangible abstract kind of idea and how we could make change in our communities,” she explained.
Lawlor invited members of the school administration and the SEF to a recent event where students met with experts within the greater Shrewsbury community to enhance the work they are doing for their own projects.
These students, throughout the year, are trying to make a change for the better in the community. They are speaking with people who are working in nonprofits or other organizations that are related to the topic that they have been working on.
These areas included poverty, education, equal rights and the environment. There were a number of experts on hand within each of these primary areas for the students to meet.
“It’s fun and it’s definitely engaging with the community,” shared sophomore Meera, whose area of interest was education.
When asked if she thought they were making any changes, she said, “probably not that big on such a big scale but I feel like we are trying as much as we can on the local level.”
Students were able to learn first-hand from experts in small group discussions on climate change and green initiatives within Shrewsbury as well as have conversations with ambassadors from groups including the Worcester Animal Rescue League, Abby’s House, the Grafton Community Harvest Project, the Worcester County Food Bank and Project Bread’s Walk for Hunger.
Eben Bein, field coordinator from Our Climate, said: “It was really fun to see the students transition from ‘here’s the nature of the problem, here is the nature of the solution to here is our role in the solution.’ It was cool to see their faces light up – it’s empowering.”
Some of the students’ projects included making student backpacks and food care kits and planning a field trip to the Grafton-based Community Harvest Project.
The Changemaker Project concludes in June when students give their final presentations.