In Spring 2018, students at Burke High School (BHS) came together with two BHS teachers, Amelia Little (Navarrete) and Chopper (Edgar) Johnson, to create a unique project about untold stories of disenfranchised, marginalized societies called Finding a Voice. This past weekend, Burke was honored at the national New Tech Conference in St. Louis, Missouri for their outstanding work.
Through support from the ECMC Foundation, Burke High School was awarded a grant to participate in the New Tech Network (NTN) program for the 2017-18 school year. With over 20 years of impact in improving teaching and learning through project-based learning, the New Tech Network, a non- profit organization, supports schools and districts throughout the country in ensuring college and career success for all students.
Community members, school administrators, and staff were excited about the doors this partnership could open for students at Burke. As it turns out, the administrators, staff, and students were ready to walk through those doors together and did so in a way that earned them NTN’s 2018 Best in Network award. The Best in Network honor is given to an NTN project that exemplifies the goal of successfully combining active exploration, application, authenticity, and academic rigor.
Finding a Voice was a Burke project across the dual content areas of world literature and government. The project involved research and collaboration, and asked students to design graphic novels about disenfranchised and marginalized groups around the world. To assist with the graphic novels, Little and Johnson reached out to the local public library system, which enthusiastically joined the team.
Students reached the project’s final creative product through conducting independent research on living conditions for various marginalized societies across the globe and interviews with student refugees from other countries, including a student of similar age from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
To demonstrate and share their research and findings, students wrote first-person narratives and storyboarded the plot of their graphic novel.
BHS sophomores, Trinity Frost and James Snipes, along with Little and Johnson presented Finding a Voice at the conference on Saturday, July 14, 2018. Snipes and Frost led the presentation in front of hundreds of teachers, administrators, and educational leaders from across the country, expertly and enthusiastically discussing their project, findings, and fielding questions from the audience. At the conclusion of their presentation, the group representing Burke High School received a standing ovation from the audience.