The Student Council at Duxbury High School composed the phrased “Define Your Legacy” as the catchphrase to frame their efforts for the 2016-2017 school year. Student Council President Emily M. took that phrase as a challenge and used it to inspire an idea she had about bringing seniors citizens into our school, into our classrooms to participate in discussions with our current senior students. In early October, Emily began meeting with the school administration, with leaders in our community, as well as with teachers who might be interested in participating, adopting a highly collaborative and professional approach to making this idea a reality. On Friday, November 18th, 2016, a group of about a dozen members of the Duxbury Senior Center came to Duxbury High School and spent the day touring the facility, observing classes and student demonstrations, and engaging in thoughtful discussions on the past, present and future of teaching and learning in Duxbury.
The group of visitors arrived just after 9:00 am and was greeted by representatives of the student body, faculty and administration. Mr. Stephens, principal of DHS, welcomed the group over coffee and light refreshments in our Breadboard area located in the central concourse of the school that we like to refer to as “Main Street.” During this meet and greet, Emily paired each visitor with a junior or senior student who would act as a personal guide for the remainder of the day. Soon after, the principal led the group on a tour of the facilities, giving some insights into the construction process and how the plan for the building was developed collaboratively by the building committee a few years ago. The tour made a lengthy stop in the music suite and visitors were able to observe rehearsals by the symphonic orchestra and string orchestra. Visitors were introduced to Mr. Ric Madru, director of the music program, who gave them an overview of all the programs offered and answered questions as they came up. The tour continued on to the wood shop where our Tech. Ed. teacher, Mr. Files showed the group around the woodshop and then introduced the group to members of the Robotics Team. The group was amazed while viewing a demonstration of the team’s robot which was remotely controlled by one of the students to play soccer with members of the visiting group.
The robotics demonstration was followed by classroom visits. Each visitor was given a choice as to the types of classes they were interested in visiting–choosing among AP English Literature, AP English Language, AP Biology, US History II, and AP Calculus. For this part of the program, each visitor traveled with their personal student guide and had a chance to interact and engage with students and the teacher of the classes they visited. Most visitors were able to spend about 30 minutes in two different classes.
The visitors enjoyed lunch provided by the student chefs of the Breadboard kitchen in the faculty dining room. This was a good opportunity for visitors to talk informally with teachers, administrators and students about the new building, teaching and learning, or the wonderful food on the menu.
After lunch, visitors, students, teachers and administrators participated in a round-table discussion during which all participants could ask questions and share insights about how education has changed over the years. The group was delighted to listen to Mrs. Mary Ciccarelli give a wonderful presentation about the history of Duxbury High School and how teaching methods have developed over the years and how the educational values are reflected in the architecture of the buildings that have housed schools over the decades.
At the end of the day, all who participated raved about the experience! The leadership of the Senior Center and the Duxbury Student Government in collaboration with the DHS Administration have committed to running this program for more members of the senior center in the Spring. In the end, this intergenerational learning opportunity is on its way to becoming a part of the fabric of Duxbury High School, ensuring that Emily M. has gone a long way towards Defining her Legacy and proving the power of community!