by Meera Patankar, Middle School history teacher / Middle School GSL coordinator
Above: Eighth-graders from Lakeside and the Lake Quinault School collaborated on a service-learning project during the visiting students' recent trip to Seattle.
As our Middle School Global Service Learning (GSL) Program continues to evolve, it's been a joy to collaborate with partner schools throughout the Pacific Northwest!
During last September's 8th-grade GSL trips, Lakeside students spent time connecting with youth from partner schools in the Makah and Quinault Native American communities on the Olympic Peninsula, in addition to four other locations around the Pacific Northwest. This March, youth from the Makah and Quinault communities returned the visit, coming to Seattle and participating in two separate overnight fieldtrips at Lakeside Middle School. Lakeside students helped welcome the 4th-grade students from Neah Bay Elementary School and 8th-grade students from the Lake Quinault School. Lakeside students were especially eager to reconnect with our visiting friends and see their familiar faces here in Seattle!
On both field trips, students had the opportunity to work with peers during the school day and hang out in a more casual setting in the evening. In early March, Neah Bay 4th graders collaborated with Lakeside 5th graders during their morning class time. In small mixed groups, students engaged in a maritime-themed experiential game called "Pirate Ship" and designed imaginary planets in a newly discovered solar system. Later in the month, 8th graders from Lake Quinault and Lakeside collaborated on forest restoration in service learning work along the Cedar River with partner organization Forterra. In the evening during both trips, Lakesiders and visiting youth shared a pizza dinner, played games in the gym, and enjoyed a movie night in the theater before our guests settled in for the evening.
The Middle School buzzed with enthusiasm, laughter and smiles during both overnight field trips.Over a quarter of Lakeside's 8th-grade class volunteered to participate in the afternoon and evening events, showing our guests around the building and initiating a range of activities. Our 5th-grade students experienced a unique window into Makah culture when the Neah Bay 4th-graders sang a traditional song for Lakeside students. The Neah Bay 4th-grade class also designed and created a "Working Together" banner – a gift that now proudly hangs in Lakeside Middle School. A twin banner hangs in the 4th-grade classroom at Neah Bay Elementary School. The beautiful message, whale tail, and eagle feathers will continue to grace the Lakeside Middle School hallway, reminding us of our unique partnerships.
School-based connections are an important part of our school-year integrated Middle School GSL program. These bonds provide a wonderful opportunity for reciprocal cross-cultural experiences with youth in the Pacific Northwest region. We look forward to strengthening these partnerships as the program continues to evolve in the coming years.