Here are a few place-based highlights from this spring at Southwest Charter:
This March the 1st and 2nd graders celebrated the end of their restaurant unit. As part of this unit, students designed their own restaurant and studied different aspects of restaurant management. For fieldwork, students visited the Aquariva, right down the river from us, and had a private tour and baking demonstration from head chef, Seth Tucker. Seth also visited the classroom to answer questions about how to run a restaurant. Both classes had an opportunity to tour Verde Concina’s Sylvan restaurant, as well, and sampled some of their tasty food. Students strengthened their skills in the kitchen by taking a class at the Portland Culinary Workshop, where they baked bread and make cheesy bread sticks.
As a culminating project, both classes transformed their rooms into restaurants (Megan’s was a Pizzaria and Nesa’s served Mexican cuisine) and hosted their families for a meal. To prepare for this event, our art teachers made personalized aprons with the students and ceramic food. Students also created menus, bills and receipts, showing their skills in writing and arithmetic. On the grand opening day, students served their families pizza from Rovente and yummy cheese quesadillas, which were made fresh on site by cooks from Verde Cocina. Overall, this was a super fun unit with lots of connections to our community and real life. Huge thanks to all the volunteers and guest experts who made this project happen!
In April, the 4th and 5th graders launched a study into urban animals, with a focus on coyotes. Coyotes have attracted a lot of attention in the press and social media lately, although it is clear that they have lived in our city and neighborhoods for a very long time. The students will be researching coyote biology and looking
specifically at how coyotes live in urban areas. The classrooms hosted Zuriel Rasmussen, leader of Portland State University’s Portland Urban Coyote Project- a program that partners with the Audubon Society to track coyotes in our city and helps to educate citizens. Students will be working over the next few weeks on a plan to help the Coyote Project with their mission and will present it to Zuriel when she comes back for a second visit. Yip, yip yiiiiip!
Meanwhile, the 7th and 8th graders have had their hands full with preparations for their trip to Seattle, engaging in service internships and working full-steam on their Project Citizen projects.
- 8th graders are fanning out across the school, neighborhood, and city on Thursday afternoons to offer service to a number of agencies and organizations: Mirabella, Grey’s Landing, Neighborhood House food pantry, the Portland Children’s Book Bank, Montessori Children’s House and classrooms in our school. The 7th graders are busy preparing for internships next year by taking an in-depth look at careers and career skills. Several parents have visited the class to talk about their professions and Miriam Lea came in to give pointers on how to interview for a job.
- The Project Citizen showcase is scheduled for Salem on Friday, May 20th. This year, our 8th graders have selected the problem of affordable housing and our 7th graders are focusing on late start times for schools. Our school has won 1st place in the state for five years running. Wish them luck in Salem!
- Students will take the Amtrak to Seattle on May 16th and will return on May 19th. Their adventure will include a stay at the youth hostel in the International District, a visit to the aquarium and the Experience Music Project, a ferry ride to Bainbridge Island, an exploration of Pike Place, a guided tour of the historic Chinatown, and a glimpse of Seattle’s underground. Bon Voyage!
Look for an end-of-the-year update in June for more spring fieldwork and place-based highlights.