March 2016 Third Week Round Up

By Kiran Gandhi

Student activities outside the confines of the curriculum and its recognition have been a continuing theme this week. From the ‘Earth Shakers’ in Oklahoma to Yap Hee Heng and Muhamad Safiuddin Rosli in Malaysia to Matthew Bambach in Baltimore, the range of activities have been myriad.

The Saratogian reported the Science Night, an annual event of Maple Avenue School’s science department chair in collaboration with Skidmore College. The idea behind the Science Night in John Scrivo’s (the science teacher in Maple Avenue) words was “We wanted to inspire the kids to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). If we just get the kids excited about STEM, they’ll want to go into it more.”Taking the interest in STEM to the next level were the STEM club from Bethel High School, Oklahoma where a seven-member group which calls itself The Earth Shakers (a cool name by the way), produced a video illustrating correct earthquake drill procedures and presented safety lessons to students at Bethel’s middle school, The Oklahoman reported. A free printable earthquake safety brochure created by them is also available on their website.

Environment was the focus this week as far as Philippines was concerned. According to The Freeman, an environment advocacy group named LIFE (Learn, Inspire,Fulfill,Empower) was created by the biological society of University of Visayas to promote love for the environment. Meanwhile fourth year Mass Communication students of Angeles University Foundation (AUF)in Pampanga,Philippines conducted seminars about responsible parenthood and family planning with the help of the Rural Health Unit of the town, the reported.

Taking a break from the focus on student activities was the Cobb school from Atlanta, where according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, improving parental involvement was the topic pondered over. A school board member had earlier suggested the radical move of penalising students for their parent’s inaction (how simple were the times when students had to worry about their actions only). Since it was rejected by the board, the member has reintroduced the idea with incentives for parents to take part in school activities.

In a remarkable expression of cross-cultural embrace, the students of Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Saujana Impian, in Malaysia performed 13 dances depicting the Indian culture in the event organised as an early farewell celebration for the school’s Tamil language advisor, the Star Malaysia reported. The school has a Malay majority of 95% and the event was an initiative to expose the students to the Indian culture.

Titled ‘The Olympics of Abilities’, the International Abilympics this year will see participation of two special education studentsYap Hee Heng and Muhamad Safiuddin Roslifrom the Selayang Community College, Malaysia, according to The Star Malaysia. Abilympics is an international vocational skills competition for persons with disabilities held once in four years to showcase their potential and abilities, with Bordeaux, France hosting this edition. The students from Malaysia who are hearing impaired, will compete in the culinary category.

The Redwood City (approximately 27 miles south of San Francisco) was in the news for its largest scholarship program the Sequoia awards, the award celebrating its 25th anniversary with over $1.9 million in scholarship money given already, as per San Jose Mercury News. The award recognises high-school seniors who have performed uncompensated community service. This recognition of voluntary service is one end of the spectrum. For the other end cut to India, where the HRD (Human Resource Development) ministry is planning to make ‘voluntary service mandatory’ (Yes you read it right). The HRD ministry is likely to sign a MoU with the Ministry of Youth Affairs that will make it mandatory for students of colleges and universities enrolled in the National Social Service (NSS) to camp in villages and undertake social work there. (The NSS is a large-scale community service programme meant for the youth to engage with social problems and is run by universities across the country.)

Rashtrapathi Bhavan (the Indian President’s residence) is hosting the ‘Festival of Innovations’ this week and President Pranab Mukherjee cited the importance of educational institutions in nurturing innovation. In keeping with the spirit of the President’s message was Matthew Bambach (unrelated of course but still), a graduate student at the Maryland Institute College of Art who is in the process of creating a mobile app as part of his thesis, to help people manage symptoms of anxiety. Named Worry Quest the app is aimed at college students like himself (Yes, he suffers from anxiety) who may be grappling with the stress brought on by classes with heavy workloads, student loan debt and learning to live in a new environment(as per Boston Herald report).

Everything is not smooth-sailing as far as student activities are concerned and the speed-bump comes from New Zealand. The new Health and Safety at Work Act holds the principals personally liable if they failto exercise due diligence in making sure the school meets its health and safety obligations, the Marlborough Express reported. ‘‘I would hate it if children missed out on opportunities that have been offered previously, because there will be some principals who won’t want to take that risk“,says Tania Pringle, the Marlborough Principals Association president.

About the Author

 I-1936 Kiran-1Kiran Gandhi

Kiran Gandhi hails from the state of Kerala in India. He is currently pursuing Post Graduate diploma in Print Journalism from the Institute of Journalism, Trivandrum .He has a degree in Engineering from the Cochin University of Science & Technology.