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Midvale Journal

Midvale Middle students celebrate success in academics, serving their community

Jun 24, 2019 10:54AM ● By Julie Slama

Eighth-grader Benjamin Barinotto was one of about 200 Midvale Middle School students who on May 23 were honored for earning the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme certificate. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

About 200 students strolled across stage – some almost running – eager to shake hands with the principal and vice principals and receive recognition. Cameras flashed, students waved, and the audience erupted in applause.

Thirteen student speeches were given, some in multiple languages by native and non-native speakers, excited to share what they’ve learned, who they appreciate helping them and where they are headed next. 

But this wasn’t graduation. Instead, it was a celebration of Midvale Middle School eighth-grade students who received their International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme certificate, bringing the total to more than 1,300 students who have earned the honor since the school first began awarding them in spring 2013.

“This is the most we’ve had earn their MYP certificates in recent years, about 70 percent of our students,” said Shelley Allen, Midvale Middle School MYP program coordinator. 

That is, in part, because of a new approach. Allen and eighth-grade core teachers together merged projects so it could be used in English-Language Arts, social studies and their Make a Difference project used toward their MYP award.  

“All of eighth grade made children’s books, many of them on someone famous, which they researched. Some tied them into their History Day Fair projects. Many used these books to read to children or teach a youngster to read as part of their Make a Difference projects,” she said.

The Make a Difference project is a culminating experience, which requires research, planning, organization and reflection, Allen said. 

“They have the power to change the world and we hope they will use the knowledge they’ve gained through MYP to make an impact on their community,” she said. 

Pictures of these projects, which were shown in a PowerPoint before students walked across the stage, ranged from helping build a school in Honduras to tutoring elementary students and teaching youth sports. Students made nativity sets for the Festival of Trees, sewed bibs for Jordan Valley School students with severe disabilities, gathered donations to restock food pantries, babysat for money to donate to cancer research, made blankets for hospitals, took care of animals at shelters and more. 

“It doesn’t matter the extent as long as they’re learning and applying the process. We’ve had students realize the need within their own family and take on responsibility during the school year to prepare meals for the family as both parents are working,” she said.

Eighth-grader Yash Acharya wanted to give back to his school. As a three-year member of the debate team, he created a PowerPoint for novice debaters, giving his inside tips on how to be successful in policy and Lincoln-Douglas debate. 

“I figured I knew I could help teach how to get started with research to presenting themselves at a tournament, so this would be beneficial,” he said. 

Eighth-grader Maria Manousakis looked to the neighboring Midvale Elementary and realized some of their emergency supply kits could be updated. So, she gathered supplies from first aid items to a flashlight to water and granola bars and made classroom kits.

“The school was in great need of emergency kits,” Maria said. “They aren’t required, but usually schools have them. I learned they’re found less in low-income schools and if they are there, often times, they’re expired.”

Classmate Tanner Abbott contributed to the emergency kit project. 

Eighth-grader Amber Parker decided to help her community and teamed up with classmate Lexi Hanks to reach out to neighbors who “just needed an extra hand.” 

“We walked around neighborhoods, offering to do chores,” Amber said. “We set up Christmas lights, swept driveways, vacuumed and did small things that made a difference in people’s lives.” 

Students’ projects as well as a statement about what they learned through the MYP program were projected in the background as they received a pin and certificate. Each student also received a booklet and DVD with their classmates’ MYP projects. 

Twins Andrew and Rian Liew performed music at hospitals to entertain patients. 

In Andrew’s statement, he said he learned about service and global context and will continue to help others at school and in his community. Rian said he has become more open-minded and balanced and through the program, he has become more exposed to different experiences he may not have encountered otherwise.

Each MYP level – gold, silver, bronze and service – reflect the number of service reflections as well as level of academics in addition to accomplishing their Make a Difference project.

“About 70 percent of our students who earn the MYP certificate earn gold. It speaks to what we do here, our expectations and our students’ desire to succeed,” Allen said.

An example of these students are the ones who took on the initative to perform at the MYP ceremony. 

A group of eighth-grade musicians decided to play songs as families finished eating and filed in for the program. Under the direction of classmate Michael Chen, they found music, transcribed parts and practiced on their own for weeks before hand before performing.

Latinos-in-Action students also selected a dance, practiced for hours before taking the stage to perform during the ceremony.

“We have highly motivated students who push themselves to perform on another level,” Allen said.

Midvale Middle School received its authorization from International Baccalaureate to offer the full MYP program in August 2012, becoming one of just two middle schools in Utah to be known as an IB World School. It took four years of preparations, applications and evaluations.

This past school year, Midvale Middle’s application was renewed and will continue to help students take ownership of their learning, make connections with the world around them and to empower them to be good citizens, Allen said.

“MYP unifies our students,” she said. “We embrace our diversity. Our international-mindedness makes us better people who are making connections and becoming good citizens.”