Social Change in the Classroom


New teacher Nicole Clark is inspiring her 8th grade class to make a difference in their community through a unit on social change.  Ms. Clark’s ELA students have been reading, blogging, and talking about current social issues as well as listening to excerpts from An Invisible Thread, a true story about how life changing small acts of kindness can be.  For their final project in this unit, students have to choose a social issue they feel passionate about, research it and attempt to come up with a solution for the problem based on their research.

Ms. Clark then issued an even bigger challenge. “I communicated to students that if they wish to go for a 4, they can take their research and opinions above and beyond by actively organizing something in the community to tackle their chosen issue.”  Two of the students who have risen to the challenge are driven to make a difference.

Maria Veilleux and Syndey Townsend, both 8th graders on Team Highland didn’t have to think long to come up with the issue they wanted to address. “When Ms. Clark gave us the assignment to find a social issue in our community that could be changed,” said Veilleux, “our minds went directly to helping homeless Veterans.” According to Ms. Clark, the two girls, “spent hours researching facts and statistics.” The girls have made contact with the Maine VA Medical Center at Togus, where Veilleux’s father works,  and have started a Gofundme account to try to raise $500 for the purpose of providing more support and shelter for homeless veterans.

As their gofundme plea states, “on any given night 300,000 veterans are on the streets … it’s crazy to think that these people fought for our rights, came home, and had or have nothing.” Many gofundme campaigns provide incentives for donations and this one is no different. “If you donate $5, you will get an American flag sticker. If you donate $10, you will get a small American Flag.”  Ms. Clark added that a special thank-you reserved for benefactors donating  $30 or more is a t-shirt that the girls designed themselves which reads “Ending Homelessness, One Veteran at at Time.”  The students hope this particular incentive will also continue to spread the message of their project and move more people to act.

“ Anything would help, not just money,” adds Veilleux.  Other donations suggested by the Veterans hospital include hygiene products, clothes, shoes and food.   In addition to their fundraising, Veilleux and Townsend are also also making plans for MMS students to take a trip to the hospital to play board games and spend time with the veterans.
To contribute to this project go to

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