For the first time, CAP class at AXL Academy has been offered as a yearlong elective, allowing students to dig deeper into environmental topics and issues specific to their community. CAP Instructor Katie Morton shared some reflections on the first two trimesters as her class moves into spring:
In the last year, the words “unprecedented,” “challenging,” and “abnormal” have been thrown around regularly. I believe students are some of the people most acquainted with the various changes and difficulties the COVID-19 pandemic has created. The 7th grade students of AXL Academy in Aurora have taken these changes in stride as we have gone from remote learning to in-person classrooms with tight restrictions, then back to an online classroom once again. While briefly in-person, we took advantage of every opportunity to play large group activities, get outside to set up tents on the school campus, and get to know each other more as a group.
In early November, it became apparent we would be returning to a remote learning format once again. I remember the sad feeling in my chest watching each student walk out of the classroom following our final in-person CAP class. However, these students refused to let online learning dampen their jokes, their fun, and their desire to learn.
I have laughed at the ways students keep the online learning light and fresh. The day we discussed apex predators had me in stitches as students tried to find their place in the food chain. Online learning presents opportunities we could have never dreamed of while in person. Students have sat in their backyards, drawing what they see, creating topographic maps of their yards, and creating art from natural materials. We spent a week learning about food waste and wrapped up with a ramen cook off. Students have created their own zen gardens, bird feeders, and art activism pieces.
I am thankful for the opportunity to help students acquaint themselves with the green spaces around their homes as well as learn which household items can be used on their outdoor adventures. However, one of the greatest honors of the past two trimesters at AXL has been watching as students grow in confidence. One student writes, “I feel more inspired to try new things and I have learned so many new things. I tell my parents one new thing almost every night. I love CAP class because it has done so much for me.”
This student also shares the experience of CAP bringing her out of her shell. “Before, I just stood aside and watched everybody else.” CAP class provides students the opportunity to play and become agents of change in the community. I cannot wait to see how these students challenge themselves as we return to the in-person classroom and begin our Action Project in Trimester 3 of this year.
Written by AXL CAP Instructor Katie Morton