What can an 11-year-old do? Strathcona-Tweedsmuir’s Grade 6 students have proven that 11-year-olds can be the leaders of today’s generation through their achievements of the Primary Years Programme Exhibition.
What does the PYPx mean to STS?
Every year the Primary Years Programme Exhibition (PYPx) inspires students in their final year of primary education to engage in a collaborative, transdisciplinary inquiry process that involves them in identifying, investigating and offering solutions to real life issues. The STS PYPx has been a featured milestone of the Grade 6 curriculum for several years. What started as the central idea in the 2015-2016 PYPx, the focus on helping vulnerable populations has now evolved into a much more meaningful and impactful mission for the STS community.
This year’s PYPx centralized around the idea that, “Through the use of voice and power, human’s actions reflect their values and beliefs”. Inspired by this, Grade 6 students from STS were required to identify a local community service provider, research the work that they are doing and how it impacts vulnerable groups within the community, and then prepare a Dragon’s Den-style advocacy pitch to members of the Calgary Foundation Board for funding.
“This is the most authentic learning experience I’ve ever seen provided to students – It’s where the magic happens,” said James Wick, Grade 6 Teacher at Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School. After successfully building connections with their community partners, the students conducted several site visits, experiencing direct interactions with these community partners and how they operate to achieve their particular missions. In talking to CEOs, board members, program leaders, clients and volunteers, students’ learning is enhanced by going beyond the textbook, classroom and computer screen.
Connecting face-to-face with the community partners has moved students to be more invested in their vulnerable groups of study. Students become more concerned about the success of their project beyond academic reasons and genuinely desire to help people, ultimately making them want to become better people.
Providing students with the feeling that they can make a difference is an STS communal effort. In addition to the dedicated Grade 6 teachers and programme leaders, Middle and Senior School mentors help the Grade 6 students throughout their entire PYPx journey. Senior School faculty, STS alumni and parents also contribute to the students’ success.
The 2018 PYPx
In preparation for their presentations, the Grade 6 students worked with government officials, CEOs and philanthropy and presentation experts to ensure the best presentations to the Calgary Foundation and their community partners through the “PYPx Speaker Series”. The Speaker Series featured MLA Rick Fraser; Mayor Bill Robertson of Okotoks; Councillor Shane Keating; Co-founder and Executive Director of Kleos Microfinance Group, Sarosh Rizvi; Founder and Chairman of The Glassco Foundation, Colin Glassco; STS Alumna, Justine Stevens ’10 and STS Executive Director of Advancement and Community Relations, Dinnie Baker.
At this year’s PYPx Student-Led Assembly, students directly experienced how their voices and power served their community. Aydin Bhojani ’21 delivered a moving and articulate speech explaining how the idea he had three years ago during his own PYPx had evolved and come to fruition as a result of his personal commitment to service.
Mayor Nenshi then spoke to the students and talked passionately about the recognition of the traditional lands on which STS sits, the importance of service to the community and the meaning and power of philanthropy. Nenshi praised the students, teachers, parents and the STS community for their efforts in stating, “We understand that the future of humanity is about community and the future of community is about service”. Leaving the students with the notion that, “Your work today becomes a part of how you think about your life going forward”.
Darbie Ouimet from the Calgary Foundation also spoke at the assembly, thanking the Grade 6 students for their deep understanding of the important work of their community partners and for the amazing quality of their presentations. Ouimet also expressed that the STS PYPx has inspired the Calgary Foundation to expand their youth philanthropy programs to include six additional schools in the Calgary area next year that will focus on Grade 9 students.
STS students continue to be catalysts in learning about societal issues, helping youth realize the impact they can make through education and philanthropy. The STS community would like to extend its gratitude to the community partners who contributed to the Grade 6 students’ success:
- Children’s Cottage Society
- Janus Academy
- The Calgary Foundation
- The Mustard Seed
- Banff Centre for Arts and Diversity
- Autism & Aspergers Friendship Society (AAFS)
- Centre for Newcomers
- Fresh Start Recovery Centre
- Calgary Seniors’ Resource Society
- Cerebral Palsy Kids and Families (Calgary Cerebral Palsy Association)
- Calgary Counselling Centre
- Kids Cancer care
- Canadian Mental Health Association