NEWS RELEASE FROM PITTSBURG COMMUNITY SCHOOLS:
Pittsburg, Kan. - During its annual convention, the Character EducationPartnership selected Pittsburg Community Schools USD 250 for national awards.Two of three "Promising Practices" presented by Rhonda White, Pittsburg HighSchool assistant principal, were selected for the 2012-2013 national awards.
The first was the PHS Social Issues program; bringing social issues, relevantto students, to the forefront of students' minds. The program is presented infront of 13,000 area students including 2,500 Pittsburg students.
"The plays' themes represent the raw reality that face our youth every daysuch as school violence, eating disorders, global warming, anti-bullying,prescription drug abuse, and dating violence," Rhonda White, Pittsburg HighSchool assistant principal said. "Students involved in the productions conductsemester long research in preparation for the plays."
Surveys of students, staff, parents, and community are conducted to obtaininformation to make the subjects more relevant.
The performing students also work with a nationally renowned playwright whoauthors the plays with details that the students have contributed.
Agencies are contacted and participate in the planning, preparation andtalk-back sessions that take place after the performances.
Licensed mental health care experts are on hand during and after the playsto provide support as needed. The theater students also conduct follow upsurveys and culminating activities.
The second "Promising Practice" selected was the Pittsburg High SchoolShaping Lives program. Originally developed by PCMS teacher Jack Weaver, theprogram partners students and elderly residents of nearby assisted livingfacilities.
The student and elder make art projects together using multiple forms ofmedium. Students are paired with an elderly resident and work side-by-sidemaking art pieces ranging from clay sculptures, to drawings, paintings,furniture and jewelry. The elders are transported to the school where they workwith their partner student twice each week during a semester.
The project is discussed, designed and made collaboratively by the elderresident and the student.
"The relationship that develops and grows between the student and theresident is powerful," says White. "The initial level is intentionally tryingto grow and increase empathy by the students toward others and especially ourcommunity elders."
Students are faced with the reality of life and death as they form theirfriendship. Many friendships have lasted beyond the semester class wherestudents and elders have continued their correspondence with each other.
The finished art products are then auctioned at a stylish community affairand the proceeds go back to purchase every day essentials for the residents.This program has an immediate and practical outcome for both the resident andstudent, giving long-term value to the bond and friendship as well asincreasing the students' empathetic quotient.
Character Education Partnership selected only 262 Promising Practices toschools, districts and organizations from the United States, Canada, China,India, Mexico and New Zeland.
In a statement from The Character Education Partnership Associaton, programdirector Lara Maupin says these practices offer young people "practical ways todevelop empathy, conflict resolution skills and good citizenship."
National awards will be presented in Washington, DC in October 2013.