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The student news site of New Trier High School

New Trier News

The student news site of New Trier High School

New Trier News

Senior Class project should build community, not divide it

New partnership with Embarc Chicago goes against purpose of project
Senior adviseries used the Winter Carnival to raise money for the 2024 Embarc Chicago Senior class project

For many years, it has been a senior class tradition to fundraise for Habitat for Humanity and build a house for a family in need. In past years, I have watched students participate in bake sales, come into classrooms to sell baked goods and valentines gifts, and go on advisory field trips. Entering my senior year, I expected to be part of something like that. I was excited to bond with my peers and be a part of something that made such a significant difference for a family. 

This year, however, New Trier High School has ended their partnership with Habitat for Humanity and started a new one: Embarc Chicago. This program brings experiential learning into classrooms that typically lack access to resources for such activities.  Each senior advisory is tasked with coming up with an idea for a field trip for students in this program as well as the funds to send them there. And while this program can be beneficial to the students in it, I believe that the way this year’s senior class project has been administered is incredibly detached from the actual work that is trying to be accomplished with Embarc. I don’t see how it brings our senior class any closer together like our partnership with Habitat for Humanity did. 

I don’t see how it brings our senior class any closer together like our partnership with Habitat for Humanity did.

For the Embarc senior class project, all of the work is done within an individual advisory. We have had no exposure to other advisory’s during this process, and honestly, it seems to me that this defeats the purpose of this being an entire class-wide project. Compared to the project process for Habitat for Humanity, Embarc feels isolating. Not only does this not allow for senior bonding, but it also limits the amount of enthusiasm New Trier has seen in past years for the senior class project, and so I don’t expect us to make a huge impact on the kids involved with this program compared to giving a house to a family.

The way this project was introduced to the senior class, or at least in my advisory, was also underwhelming. After the project was introduced, I spoke to many people who didn’t even understand what the project was. And, I also spoke to many people who felt the way the project was introduced was painting New Trier in a “heroic” light, suggesting that we saw  ourselves as “saviors” for the children involved in the Embarc program.

Programs that can help elevate education in under-funded areas are essential. They can be the difference between a child pursuing and having a meaningful education or not. However, with Embarc, each advisory is simply giving funds for a one-day field trip to a class. In my experience, no field trip has ever had such an impact on my life, or even my perspective on a class/topic, to make this senior class project worth it. If we still had the option to build a house for a family, or send a few classes on a field trip, I, and likely most of my peers, would choose to build a house.

Unfortunately for me, and the rest of this year’s senior class, we were not given the opportunity to work with Habitat for Humanity. And, the school still has not even made it clear why we have ended our partnership. Might there be a completely valid reason for this partnership change? Absolutely. However New Trier is not giving any information about why we have stopped working with Habitat for Humanity and started working with Embarc. 

I am disappointed that the 2024 senior class project isn’t something that we are bonding over. Each advisory is individually participating in it, we don’t get to see the immediate effect of our efforts, and no one seems excited about this project. This new partnership could be very beneficial if it was being run in a more cohesive and collaborative way, but the approach New Trier is taking is the exact opposite of that.

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