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Culbreth MS 7th Grade Students Share Global Voices

The Culbreth Middle School (CMS) seventh grade students in Raquel Harris’ English Language Arts classes worked on Project-Based Learning through the spring, developing their messages and profiles as Global Ambassadors. All 100 students’ projects went through rounds of competition in April, with seven of those honored as winning Global Voices submissions.

Harris was accepted last year to the NC Go Global Program through UNC, and when international travel restrictions are finally eased (hopefully in 2022), she and nearly three dozen other North Carolina teachers will visit Australia, to study the Great Barrier Reef, among other aspects of the culture, history and physical environment. “As a part of our preparation, we were able to hear from Dr. John Bruno, a UNC Professor of Marine Ecology, about the ecological reality of the Great Barrier Reef,” Harris said. ”His speech really inspired me to understand the interrelation of so many of the globe's climate issues. I wanted my students to hear the same thing. But more ... I wanted them to feel empowered to speak about how the information made them feel.”

In hopes of finding a way to help her students recognize the necessity and opportunities to become Global Ambassadors at an early age, Harris invited Bruno to speak to her classes as a Marine Ecologist, but also as a human appealing to other humans to take better care of the Earth.

Then, Harris contacted The Field Museum in Chicago, where she had served as an Educational Ambassador before moving to North Carolina. They connected her with their Poet-in-Residence, Eric Elshtain, who specializes in marrying science with poetry. He spoke to Harris’ students in March via Google Meet, to help them think about ways to translate their thoughts about the Earth into actions of voice and perspective. 

Elshtain claims to have one of the best jobs in existence, a poet who works on the floor of the famous Field Museum, writing pieces of his own as he also helps visitors capture their observations and feelings into poems. “I try to help them capture melodies and rhythms and formats into poems,” he said. “A poem is a written fact of a moment-- it begins with an observation.”

After the students had heard from Bruno and Elshtain, they began work on their projects. “The students decided to present what they learned, but also what they wanted to share ... how they want to call to action,” Harris said. “The choices given were: write a children's book, write a poem, write an op-ed article, create a website (using a platform I have), write a short story, create a graphic novel piece, or they could suggest their own idea.” Topics ranged from Chinese overfishing, air pollution, the threat of extinction for giraffes, and the effects of sea pollution on sea turtles.


The finalist round of projects, among the 100, were shared with Bruno and Elshtain, and they chose the seven winners:

DJINA ALICANTE-STUESSE

HANZO VALENTIN

CRISSY MURPHY

MADISON TAYLOR

MEGAN CORSANO

JOSHUA BOSWORTH/ENZO BERON

Congratulations to the winners, and all the Global Ambassadors at CMS!