7th Grade Culmination: Pay it Forward

by Wendy

This year’s Pay it Forward culmination last week showcased the critical thinking skills and passion of our 7th grade activists. Their “issue tree” posters identified the root causes and myriad impacts of a diverse set of social issues in the world today, including homelessnes, climate change, mental health challenges and sexual assault. Their stakeholder analyses described who has power and lacks power and how the media influences public perceptions of their issue. They wrote compelling editorials informing readers of the scope of the problems and possible ways to address them at the “faucet” (versus “mopping up the floor”). Their illustrated children’s books communicate the importance of these issues to elementary age kids in a way they can understand. We hope to share these books with elementary students this fall!

There was also a “mystery activity” not revealed until our culminating event! In groups of 13, these “visionary activists” were given the task of making a proposal for a 2 million dollar grant opportunity. They were instructed to facilitate themselves for this half hour discussion, with adult observers seated fishbowl style. Their goal was a consensus solution to a diverse set of issues that would address common root causes. Students came up with three completely different and equally impressive ideas! Group 1 envisioned a nonprofit organization that would collect plastic pollution in the ocean that could be made into eco-friendly products; these products would be sold in coastal communities in Washington, where unhoused people would ideally help make and sell products in businesses that suffered during COVID. Group 2 identified mental health challenges as a root cause of many of their chosen issues. They sought to improve services for children in public schools, thus addressing mental health early in life. They came up with a proposal to be implemented in Seattle Public Schools, bringing in young adults who experienced these issues firsthand; weekly sessions would target different issues (like abuse/neglect, LGBTQ+ disrcimination, and racism). Group 3 identified poverty as a common root cause of many of their issues and proposed a campaign to set a national minimum wage of $16/hour. See examples of their brainstorming process!
Located in the Central District, Seattle Girls' School is an independent school for girls and gender nonconforming students in grades 5-8. Our mission is to inspire and develop courageous leaders who think independently, work collaboratively, learn joyfully, and champion change.