Eighth Grade Designs Go From Concept to Creation

On Day 5 of Envision Richmond, Collegiate School’s weeklong capstone program for 8th Graders, students presented their creative solutions for issues facing 20 Richmond-based nonprofit organizations. Each idea was generated from the students’ visits and candid conversations with leaders and patrons of the nonprofits they toured.
Now in its fourth year, Envision Richmond seeks to foster collaboration, empathy, creativity and problem-solving techniques within students so that they are better equipped to improve the world around them.

“Envision Richmond introduces us to things we don’t normally get exposed to,” said 8th Grader Andrew Long, who worked on a project aimed at helping veterans.

All morning throughout the Reeves Center, Reed-Gumenick Library and the Sharp Academic Commons, each student team explained its idea to a panel of five to seven community leaders, who then critiqued the team and asked tough questions.

I am inspired by the level of participation, curiosity and drive these 8th Graders had during the week of Envision Richmond,” said Wendi Moss, a Middle School English teacher who helped coordinate Envision Richmond. “In just five short days, they have been able to view themselves as change agents in our community. This program allows them to see the power and difference one person can make.”

One group presented a model of a revamped Monroe Park,complete with solar lights and lanterns to address safety concerns. Another team demonstrated its idea for an app and bracelet monitor to read body temperatures for those who suffer from sickle cell disease. Still another group showed off their colorful “soft box,” which included a pillow, blanket and board game to make a long-term hospital stay more comfortable for children. A fourth team produced a 3-D model of their community center geared toward teens dealing with depression and anxiety.

Eighth Grader Hallie Brost and her team worked on a project to help the disabled. She admitted that while the week had been challenging, “it’s good that we are learning skills that we’ll need later when we have jobs.” she said.
In previous years, several nonprofits have capitalized on students’ ideas and suggestions including contributing 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.

Eighth Grader Lily Hunnicutt, who worked with Andrew on the project to help veterans, says it was interesting to learn about all the different organizations in Richmond and to try to solve problems.

“Envision Richmond gives us confidence and makes us think that if we can do this, we can do anything,” she said.

In the spring, students will implement a service learning project to address the need they’ve worked on, making Envision Richmond a true, yearlong educational experience.

To read more about 8th Grade capstone program, visit the Envision Richmond blog.