Boyertown Area School District 8th Grade Students Complete Community Project


by Lesley Misko

In what has become a long-standing tradition in the Boyertown Area School District, 8th grade students at Middle Schools East and West closed out the school year working on a project designed to develop their real world problem solving skills. The challenge: if they had a parcel of land to develop in the Boyertown area, what would they do with it? What would benefit Boyertown? 

The project requires students to assess community needs and create a plan to fill some of those needs. Divided into small groups supervised by teachers and community mentors, students embarked on a journey of exploration and discovery. They conducted research, held brainstorming sessions, and developed comprehensive action plans to address pressing issues. The project fostered not only academic growth, but also instilled a sense of civic responsibility and environmental responsibility among participants. Team building, cooperation, and effective communication skills were also essential for students to complete the task.

Mr. Tim Rothermel, Middle School West Social Studies teacher, describes one project activity: “8th-grade students serving as Project Managers in the annual Boyertown Community Project participated in a walking tour with Ms. Ellen Martignetti, the Main Street Manager of Building a Better Boyertown. During the tour, students learned how the nonprofit focuses on revitalizing the Boyertown community by working with up-and-running businesses and organizations and seeking new ventures that would benefit the downtown area. The students’ tour included stops and stories related to the Colebrookdale Railroad, news businesses such as B-town Nutrition and Toss of the Town, and visits to the General Carl Spaatz National USAAF Museum and the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles.”

The culmination of the project was a showcase event where students presented their findings and initiatives to a panel of judges comprised of educators, community leaders, and industry professionals.

Parents, educators, and community members praise the project for fostering critical thinking, creativity, and teamwork skills essential for success in the 21st century. The project challenges students to apply what they have learned in their classrooms to a real world situation.

The concept of a grade-wide culminating project was introduced in the school district over 20 years ago by Mr. Thomas Blocher, then principal, and the faculty at what was then Junior High West. Later, the project was expanded to include both junior highs and with the transition to middle schools, the project was moved from ninth grade to eighth.

[Photos shared by Boyertown Area School District.]

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