On a Thursday afternoon at Unity Charter School, you might peek into a classroom where students are creating artwork with recycled materials, standing on one leg in tree pose, or cleaning and organizing the lost and found in the Common Room. As you walk into the room and sit down, it might be difficult to determine who the teacher is. Of course the adults in the room are easy to spot, but frequently a middle school student will be leading the discussion or activity, brainstorming service projects, teaching chess, or helping choose fair teams up for a game of kickball. You might also notice that there are students of many different grades and ages working together on the task at hand. Welcome to Interest Groups, Unity Charter School’s multi-aged, student-chosen learning experience.
In March, the Parents Association hosted a two day workshop at Unity Charter School with Gus Gauntlet, a Brooklyn based Hip Hop artist. The purpose of the workshop was to have the students learn about hip hop music, rhythm, and beats so that they could create and record their own song about Unity while incorporating our mission of sustainability and nature. The elementary students focused on the chorus and middle school focused on the lyrics for the verses. Each Middle School student wrote and recorded their own verse. Over those two days he encouraged the students to stretch their imaginations and think outside of the box. With recording equipment he brought into the classroom the students recorded the song right at the school. He brought out the best in each child. Even the most timid summed up the courage to try out this genre!! Several of the teachers and administrators also participated.
The Unity Talent Show is hands down my favorite fundraiser of the year. Don’t get me wrong… I love the rollerskating fundraiser and the Hoopla (i.e. student versus staff basketball game) is so exciting to watch, but you just can’t beat the Talent Show for a great evening of “commUnity”. I found out about the Unity Talent Show long before my kids started attending the school. My neighbor, whose son attended the school, would rave to me about how great the talent show was and that I really should come and watch one. “Watch a talent show that my kids aren’t even part of?!” I thought. “Why would I put myself through that agony?” But then my kids got accepted into the school. Of course, we all wanted to attend and support the school. That was the spring of 2008. I have been captivated ever since.