Envision Richmond, 8th Grade Capstone Program, Kicks Off

Beginning Monday, Oct. 17, the entire 8th Grade at Collegiate School will embark on its weeklong capstone project, Envision Richmond. Now in its fourth year, the unique experience provides 8th Graders with the opportunity to explore their city, learn the issues it faces and develop viable solutions as creative designers and problem solvers.
The week begins with a whitewater rafting trip on the James River to build trust and communication between teams. Over the next three days, the 8th Graders will collaborate to develop solutions to Richmond’s various challenges using the design thinking process. They will partner with 20 nonprofit organizations, including the Cameron Gallagher Foundation, Richmond Cycling Corps, Virginia War memorial, Tricycle Gardens and the Virginia Home for Boys and Girls. On Friday, they will present their plans to community leaders who will offer feedback on the viability of their solutions. (In the spring, students will implement a service-learning project to address the need they’ve worked on, making Envision Richmond a true, year-long educational experience.)

During the week, students will interview and connect with the people impacted by their assigned issue. The students will also hear from some of the region’s most innovative and persistent change agents so they, too, can develop a sense of hope, responsibility and empowerment for how to work with others toward a future they envision for their city.

Over the past three years, students' designs have influenced several programs in the community. Student ideas contributed to plans for the BridgePark across Manchester Bridge, a new after school program for students at Oak Grove-Bellemeade Elementary School in partnership with the YMCA, new bus shelters and stops for GRTC and a campaign to recruit new foster care families for older children.

“One of the cool things about Envision Richmond is that we got to implement our idea and see the change,” said Maggie Bostain, a 9th Grader who worked on the foster care issue.

Anne-Claire Quindoza, a 10th Grader who participated in Envision Richmond two years ago, says she still incorporates the collaborative process every day.

“Before I did Envision Richmond, I didn’t do a lot of teambuilding when I tried to solve problems,” she said. “After using design thinking with my teammates, now whenever I approach a problem I always seek out my classmates to help me solve it.”

Ninth Grader Sam Hart says the experience opened his eyes to what goes on in Richmond and how he and his fellow classmates can make an impact.

“I feel like I got a much better sense of the world around me and how we as students at Collegiate can shape our community,” he said.