Each year at Roosevelt School, fifth-graders complete a research and advocacy project on a topic or cause they are passionate about, such as ending homelessness and preserving endangered species. The Capstone Project culminates with students showcasing their work in June.
That was the plan this year too until the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Staff members were concerned advocacy efforts could put children at risk, so they re-envisioned Capstone and turned it into the Capsule Project.
“For me, the whole idea was to find a way to encapsulate this moment in time,” Principal Michelle Grier said. “It’s really an avenue for expressing what they’re experiencing right now and to see themselves as resilient and strong enough to overcome any difficulty, even a global pandemic.”
All of the school’s 379 students participated in the project. The fifth-graders spent five weeks from early May to mid-June exploring through their medium of choice “Connections with Family,” “Connections with Others,” “Connections with World” and “Connections with Self.” Submissions included graphic design, poetry, realistic fiction, journals, dances, musical performances, videos and more.
More than 100 guests attended a June 17 online event, Capsule Project: A Collective Message of Overcoming and Resilience. One student from each classroom presented. Topics varied greatly, from writing a pandemic diary through the eyes of a dog, to creating a dance video to express three pandemic emotions (overwhelmed, bored, happy).
Student Lerissa Johnson read two poems she wrote for “Connections to Self” week – “Courage” and “Confidence.”
“Courage isn’t a substitute for fear but the ability to move past things. Courage is what I have. Even through my ups and downs,” her piece “Courage” read in part.
For her final assignment, Sarah Solganick played “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” from Annie on the piano to represent hope for the future.
“Although the pandemic has been difficult for everyone in many ways, I found ways to persevere and push forward, hoping for better days,” she said.
For “Connections to Others” week, Max Lazarowitz learned to play “Lean on Me” by the late Bill Withers on piano. Close friends and family members took turns singing the lyrics during a Zoom session as Max performed the piece.
“During this hard time, my friends and family have been helping me get through this,” Max wrote. “The words in the song represent how we all need to support each other.”