Ed Smith Students Advocate for Neighborhood Improvements

     Published on 4/29/19   Tagged under:    District News    Ed Smith   

This is a photo of four girls at a table, each with their own laptop, smiling at the camera.“Look at this shed,” one Ed Smith student said as she pointed to a picture on her computer. “It’s all busted up! They need to fix the broken window and cut out some of the weeds and tree branches.”
“This is a picture of the sidewalk around school,” another student said, pointing out the snow-covered path. “We have to walk to school, and when the sidewalks aren’t clear, that’s a problem.”
“Look at these cracks in the road,” a third student exclaimed, pointing to a photo of a giant pothole. “Families have to drive over these!”
Thanks to a grant written by Vice Principal Lessie Williams and funded by the SCSD Educational Foundation, eighth grade students at Ed Smith were able to take a digital camera out into the neighborhood around school, photographing anything that bothered them.
In coordination with Syracuse Common Councilor Latoya Allen, students were invited to present a PowerPoint to the Common Council later in the school year, highlighting the issues they saw and their suggestions for correcting them.
“Having the chance to speak to the Common Council lets us actually speak our mind,” eighth grader Ny’Jae Nanning said. “Around our school, people are littering, painting graffiti that isn’t appropriate for little kids, and parking their cars in ways that are dangerous for the walkers. But we can make a change by speaking with our government leaders.”
Ms. Williams, a former Social Studies teacher, said the biggest benefit of the project is allowing the students to see the importance of being involved and using their voice to help their community.
“This allows the students to see firsthand how the government works and get a sense of their voice and how they can make a difference,” Ms. Williams said. “I wanted to expose them early to the government and let them see that government isn’t just something you learn about but something you get involved in. If they can make even one change, this is a success.”
Ms. Williams noted that the project also takes students outside of themselves and encourages them to practice their public speaking skills. It also teaches them photography skills that can serve them well as a career possibility.
This is one of 22 projects funded in 17 schools this year by the SCSD Educational Foundation, totaling more than $62,000. To learn more about this year’s grant projects, please visit www.scsdfoundation.com.