The 20% Project: Student-driven community service and outreach at Peak

20% Project: Incredible Student-driven Community Service & Outreach at Peak

Upper school students at Peak are participating in The 20% Project, a student-designed project aimed at giving back to a community, be it The Peak School, Summit County, Colorado, or beyond. In their Upper School literature course, twenty-percent of class time is strictly dedicated to students’ developing and carrying out a plan, and sharing what they learn and accomplish through the experience.

The project idea was the brainchild of Peak literature teacher, Monica Mills who heard about The 20% Project at a Google professional development conference for teachers last year. Peak upper school students, looking for a way to model leadership and give back to the community, immediately took ownership; and the idea took flight.

Some High School students are opting to give back to the Peak community by facilitating and leading classes that interest them. Each quarter, Peak hosts CommuniTeach, which aims to meaningfully engage Peak students with local community members through small, focused workshops. Generally the “CommuniTeachers” are professionals in the community, but during the last CommuniTeach, Arel S. and Kira B. taught Engineering and Songwriting workshops to Middle School students as part of The 20% Project. Conor C. helped develop new Outdoor Education curriculum with guidance from professionals in Summit County as part of his project, laying the groundwork for future student-let trips. He led the trip alongside Peak faculty members, helping them with all trip logistics from the route to the grocery shopping and menu.

Tenth grade student Hope A. seeks to promote literacy in Summit County through her 20% Project by building Little Free Libraries, a book exchange where readers can “take-a-book, return-a book.” Hope is building birdhouse-like structures set on a post with a door that opens, revealing bookshelves. She has three such birdhouses in the works and plans to place them at Frisco Town Hall, FIRC, and Summit County Pre-School.

The 20% Project has offered the 15 Upper School students involved the freedom to design a project that interests them and enhances their community, and another incredible example is the founding of Peak’s Theatre Club by 11th grade student Selah K. The group performed Alice in Wonderland in conjunction with students from SMS and SHS on last weekend at Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge. The entire production was student led, from the casting to the costumes to the directing, and the dedication and passion of one student fostered cross-age interaction within our Summit County school communities.

In his weekly newsletter, Head of School, Steve Coleman, wrote “’Alice in Wonderland’ was not only entertaining and fun, it was an extraordinary example of what dedicated and talented young people can do when given the freedom and responsibility to create their own work. A huge shout-out to Selah, the mastermind and driving force behind the magic of “Alice,” and my utmost admiration to all members of the cast and crew. I’m so pleased, too, that students from SMS and SHS were intimately involved – Selah has shown that The Peak School can play a key role in the arts in Summit County.”

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Caroline Santinelli