Etched in Stone

First Nonprofit Symposium engages and educates

Isabella Mahal

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Photo Credit: Courtney Goetz

On Monday, February 26, Fossil Ridge High School hosted a Nonprofit Symposium in the Media Center. Designed to give Fossil students and staff an opportunity to learn about nonprofit organizations in the community, as well as the causes and volunteer opportunities they offer, the event was primarily hosted by students from Mr. DeGear and Mr. Hanauer’s junior English classes. Though the symposium met its goal of engaging students in learning about important causes that interest them, much of the learning came in the weeks of organizing and planning it took to pull off the event.

DeGear and Hanauer divided their students into several groups, which then subdivided into committees, to give every student an opportunity to participate. Featuring event planners, sound engineers, project managers, producers, marketing managers, and an art group, these committees all had various defined responsibilities and the added work of building a symposium that Fossil had never held before.

Annabeth Sarbacker was a producer from one of Mr. DeGear’s classes, and took over the role of inter-class communications partway through the project as well. As such, her responsibilities mainly including overseeing the other groups during class time, making sure the project was on track, and making sure no important aspect fell through the cracks. She explained that students did a lot of research up-front to determine which nonprofits were personally interesting to people, and then those same students practiced drafting professional invitations to those same nonprofits. They had to maintain correspondences with those groups, which led to discussion about business letters and how they differ from other types of writing.

Beyond the writing connection, Sarbacker felt that the symposium connected to a more traditional English class in terms of the research that students did to pick organizations. Additionally, more writing will follow as students turn the information that they gained from nonprofits into songs, poems, or speeches that they will then present to the class.

Students got to choose which tables they visited in the Media Center, allowing them to really explore causes that were meaningful to themselves personally. Photo Credit: Courtney Goetz

Sarbacker’s favorite part of the experience was the aspect of working together. Due to the collaborative nature of the project, she felt as though the event was highly successful despite the initial obstacle of organizing several classes towards one central goal. Talking to organizations that she was really interested in was another favorite aspect, particularly being able to listen to the personal stories of the nonprofit representatives that included what drew them to the group initially and why they continue to work for them today.

Though her position was definitely leadership-based, Sarbacker felt like the biggest skill she took away from the symposium was the cooperation required. Initially paired with a co producer, the hardest part of the project was not the workload but the communication that was required between them. She also felt like she learned more about how a classroom works from a teacher’s point of view, in terms of managing several different tasks and making sure deadlines were being met.

The symposium was photographed and videoed all day by several TV students, who created a time-lapse of the day and also took a variety of footage. It was advertised on the announcements, via Twitter, and on posters around the school, and several teachers took their classes to visit the symposium during class time. Mr. DeGear and Mr. Hanauer had their students reflect on their experiences, and will take that feedback into planning for next year’s symposium, which they hope to make an annual event.

About the Writer
Isabella Mahal, Copy Editor
Isabella Mahal: journalist, academic beat leader, activist for what she believes in. Whether it’s defending women’s rights, LGBT+ rights, or freedom of speech, Mahal isn’t afraid to fight for what she finds just. She has been involved in journalism since her freshman year, but she didn’t know until a couple months into the class that...
1 Comment

One Response to “First Nonprofit Symposium engages and educates”

  1. Aliyah on March 7th, 2018 2:18 pm

    I am happy that our school did this specially the one with the Foster Care because some of the kids that go here at home they don’t feel safe. When i was at my dad’s house over the summer, I didn’t feel safe because i barely knew him.

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First Nonprofit Symposium engages and educates