At Lakeview Academy, the students of Mrs. Caroline Lacksen are going to change the world. The idea that students have that kind of power is no joke, as local artist Megan Fowler explained during her initial visit. She showed them a project called PepToc from the children at West Side Elementary in Healdsburg, California, who were looking for a way to inspire people going through a hard time during the wildfires scourging along the West Coast. PepToc is a hotline people could call into to hear students giving words of encouragement and laughter. Only two days after the project was launched, the hotline was receiving as much as 700 calls per hour. So Fowler and Lacksen wondered what Baldwin kids could do.
Fowler, who owns a printing company called Brown Parcel Press, wondered what kind of affirmations our students might be able to come up with rooted in their own experiences of living in a close-knit rural community. "The world always needs more kind people," Lacksen said, "we also wanted students to realize that, you're a young person, but your words and actions have a lot of power, especially in your own community."
The class is working together to develop an art design around a positive and uplifting phrase that Fowler will put into production at her studio for limited release with the final product being marketed on the Brown Parcel Press website. All proceeds from the limited run will then be donated to an organization of the students' choice, with the goal being to reach $1,000 in sales.
After coming up with initial design pitches, the students came together to decide on a charity to focus on. "I have a student with a personal connection with the Life Enrichment Center," Lacksen said, "I don't know if that's why the students decided to go with that one or if it's based off of the book we're reading in class, 'Out of My Mind' (by Sharon M. Draper)
but it was an issue that they felt passionate about."
The Life Enrichment Center serves Baldwin County adults with Intellectual Developmental Disabilities by providing them with meaningful life experiences.
"The whole point is that I donate the time and materials and labor, and they're sort of the brain behind it all," said Fowler. "Then I'll use my platform, which is my website, to sell the prints, and 100% of everything will go to whichever charity or nonprofit they want it to."
Fowler and Lacksen are also taking special care to emphasize the project's educational components. "We're talking to them about things like, 'how are we going to market it?' 'What sort of messaging is behind this?'," said Fowler, "It's one thing to have an idea and then to make it a reality, but then you have to convey that idea to the public."
Ms. Lacksen said that the research has consistently shown that integrating content areas provides students with the greatest opportunities for academic growth. By couching the art project in real-world business arrangements, marketing, and financial goals, they have created a large scale educational project. "It's very cross curricular," said Lacksen, "the deeper we get into the project, the more opportunities come up for deeper learning and inquiry on the student's part."
The unveiling of the final piece will take place on October 6th.