The Hall High School Global Problem Solving class is addressing the worldwide issue of "food" this year, and along with that exploration, nearly the entire Hall community is coming together for a "Farm to Table" event Wednesday evening.
"Breaking Bread" will take place in the Hall cafeteria on Wednesday, Jan. 30, but it is just one element of Hall's second annual "Do Something Week," and one piece of what the Global Problem Solving class is trying to achieve.
This is the second year that Liz Devine is teaching Global Problem Solving at Hall – a class where students use interdisciplinary skills to address a project – essentially a Capstone Project which is a key component of the state's forthcoming Secondary School Reform plan.
Last year's class focused on the basic need of water, this year is food, and next year will be housing.
The class of seniors separated into several smaller groups and spent the first semester researching the global issue of food. Their midterm was presenting findings to a group of teachers.
Students discussed the economics of U.S. large-scale farming practices vs. eating locally-grown products, marketing prowess of large fast food companies, environmental impacts, the dilemma of healthy eating with food stamps, and other complex issues.
"What you purchase is your vote," said one of the students in last week's presentation about economics, emphasizing the power of consumers to have an impact.
The class has impacted the students personally as well. "I've changed the way I've eaten because of this project. I've been disgusted," said Rachel Fishman. "All groups have touched on problems. It's really opened our eyes," said Keilani Lai-Hipp.
The rest of the year will be spent implementing projects in order to have an impact on at least one facet of the global problem – including a farmer's market in a low income area, modeled after the Billings Forge Farmers' Market in Hartford which they visited. That group of Hall students is working with elementary school students at Charter Oak International Academy, where the farmer's market will be located.
Another group plans to help build a greenhouse on the Lakota Sioux Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, where malnutrition and diabetes are rampant. "We wanted to do something sustainable," said Jenna Wyman. Students in that group hosted a "Hack for Hunger," will sell hacky sacks, and so far have sold $900 of t-shirts for their project.
The projects are the students' ideas, and from beginning to end they will plan and implement them. "It really helps us be more independent; all these projects are really our own ideas," said Quintin Casella. "We are able to use skills we have learned outside of class," said Jonas Shivers, who has put his video talents to work in the class.
"I think one of the cool things about this class is that we have to advocate for ourselves and really make a difference in something we care about," said Clare Hern.
One of the major efforts undertaken by this year's class is Wednesday night's "Farm to Table" dinner, which is a fundraiser as well as a way to raise awareness of "local, healthy, and sustainable food choices."
"Breaking Bread" is being sponsored by West Hartford School's Food Services Department, as well as Hall's Global Problem Solving class, foods classes, art classes, business classes, and the Empty Bowls and Human Rights clubs. Funds will be raised for the West Hartford Food Pantry, FoodShare, and a garden to be built at Hall. Teachers from all disciplines have collaborated on this effort.
The dinner will feature special guest chefs, including Terry Walters, author of "Clean Food Cookbook," Hunter Morton of Max Downtown, Anthony Cameilleri of Rizzuto's, Mark Shadle of G-Zen, and Chris Torla of Trumbull Kitchen. It will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 30, in the Hall cafeteria. Dinner costs $5 for students, $10 for students including a ceramic bowl, $15 for adults with a bowl, and $40 maximum per family.
Other events taking place during "Do Something Week" are detailed on the above PDF, and include individuals donating 8-10 inches of their hair to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths Campaign, to be used to make wigs for cancer patients in honor and support of Hall staff member, Gayle Koffi, who was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
The week will conclude with a school wide assembly program entitled “Cultural Fusion” on Friday, showcasing the school's diversity.
"The kids are very hopeful; they can do a lot of great things," said Devine, who said she and the other adults have been operating in the background, and helping teach organizational skills.
"There is a circle of concern and a circle of influence. We can all do something," she said.