Brookline High School alumna Maya Rozen interviewed current students about their experiences participating in BHS Innovation Fund courses. Hear the impact of the Innovation Fund at BHS in the students’ own voices.
Many of the courses offered at BHS revolve around a curriculum that students are required to take, which is why many students relish the academic opportunities that grant them more freedom to explore other areas of study more on their own terms. For students interested in engineering, Engineering by Design is a great class that allows students to explore different areas of engineering and design and to pursue projects that they are passionate about. Other classes like Social Justice and Racial Awareness provide a safe space for students to learn about important topics with the freedom to share their own thoughts, experiences, and beliefs. Many of these classes allow students to explore new subjects that aren’t always covered in the required curriculum.
In your opinion, what makes your Fund class different compared to your other classes?
“Something that stood out to me about the class was the amount of freedom we had because I kind of expected it to be really structured with a lot of rules, but I found that with all of the projects there was a lot of room for our own ideas and a lot of room for creativity, which I liked.”
~Sarah S., BHS ’21, Engineering by Design
“I think since you have to apply, everyone who is in the class is really interested in social justice and wants to be there. It’s not like people are taking it just to check it off the list or just to say they took it. I can see people who were in my class that are now doing things on their own time, whether they have an internship, or they’re volunteering, or they’re just doing research and finding ways to work on the issues that we learned about. I also think that since everyone wanted to be there, people really opened up because we’re all so passionate about it. Everyone’s open to hearing the perspective of other people who are passionate and I think a lot of that comes from Ms. Leslie because she has so much passion. You can see when she’s teaching that she wants to be there so much and she wants to give us all this knowledge of what is actually happening, and then give us the freedom to talk about what we think, and that is something that I often don’t find in a class.”
~Aine D., BHS ’21, Social Justice
As a ninth grader entering BHS, the thought of graduation seems as if it is a million years away. Freshman and sophomore years pass by in the blink of an eye, and then suddenly you’re in your junior year and it’s time to begin figuring out what your next steps will be after you graduate high school. Some students go through high school with a clear idea of what those next steps are whether it’s pursuing a certain career or studying a specific major in college, but for many students this is not the case. Having the opportunity to try out different classes can expose them to new subjects and inspire new interests. Many students find that classes like Social Justice can lead to new interests that they are excited to continue pursuing after high school. Aside from exposing students to new topics, these classes also teach students very valuable skills that they don’t always learn from their required courses. Tutorial helps many students learn how to better manage their time and their work, teaching them valuable skills such as organization, time management, and how to plan out their week. Other classes like Racial Awareness can help students feel more comfortable going out of their comfort zone through being exposed to new points of view or learning how to have tough conversations. All of these skills are very important to have during their time at BHS and beyond.
How has the class shaped who you are as a student? How have you grown as a result of this class?
“As a student, I noticed as I was taking this class that before I tended to make more assumptions about people, and this class has helped me think about the reasons I’m doing that and how not to act on those assumptions, and I think I definitely have grown from taking this class.”
~Kate C., BHS ‘22, Racial Awareness
“I think I’ve grown a lot in the way that I feel like I can voice my opinions more if someone brings up an issue. I feel like I have the knowledge and the power to actually voice my opinion because I’ve learned about it. I think that a lot of times now I’ll hear conversations going on and I’ll actually know what they’re talking about which I think is really cool because I can participate in the conversation. Now more than ever I feel like I can help. I have so much of an understanding of what’s going on, so I can really help and try to help other people try to understand what’s going on.”
~Zoey F., BHS ‘22, Global Leadership
“I think I’ve grown in my abilities to ask for help and to make sure that I have a plan for the week for my assignments and projects and when I should be doing them. I think my experience would be a lot harder, I would be less organized, and I don’t think I would get as much work done without tutorial.”
~Declan T., BHS ‘22, Tutorial
“I think that I’ve been able to want to have the uncomfortable conversations. A lot of times people don’t want to talk about a certain thing because they know people have conflicting points of view or that it affects someone personally and they don’t feel like it’s their place to talk about it. This class made me realize that you can have a voice, but it’s also really important to listen, and listen to the uncomfortable conversations and be able to ask questions and be able to talk about it even though it might be uncomfortable.”
~Aine D., BHS ‘21, Social Justice
Many classes like Global Leadership and Social Justice offer students the unique opportunity to learn about current, important topics while simultaneously engaging in real world problem solving and solutions. Fundraisers, volunteering, and peaceful protests are some of the many ways where students can feel like they are not just doing the important learning, but also feel like they are making a real difference and contributing to the solution.
Can you describe some of the most memorable parts of the class and talk about a couple of your favorite assignments?
“We were having a lot of meetings and conversations about the Black Lives Matter movement. We got to talk about them as a class and getting to hear from other people about what they’ve been doing and how they’ve been using the things that we learned from this class to contribute to this movement was great.”
~Kate C., BHS ‘22, Racial Awareness
“I think a lot of people will say this but definitely learning about the incarceration system. The prison trip is always something people talk about for a really long time. I was excited about the trip because I think the incarceration system isn’t something that we see on the news every day. When I sit down to watch the news, I don’t see them talk about all the oppression and discrimination that exists in the incarceration system. I think that it’s overlooked a lot so I really wasn’t aware of what was happening in the system, and being able to go to a prison and then talk to inmates was really cool because we could hear their first hand experiences and they were really honest. They talked about the guards there and how they’re not nice to them and what it’s like in solitary confinement. They were just really really honest about what’s happening, and being able to see that after watching movies about the incarceration system and what happens was really powerful, so that was the night that really stood out to me.”
~Aine D., BHS ’21, Social Justice
“One of the assignments we did was called the TAP Challenge which was where we raised money for clean water in Nicaragua, and we did that by starting a school campaign to have everyone bring their own water bottles and not use plastic water bottles for 25 days. We sold reusable water bottles and tumblers and also stickers. I thought it was really cool because it really felt like we were making an impact instead of just learning about the issue. I actually felt like I was doing something about it while still learning about it in class.”
~Zoey F., BHS ’22, Global Leadership