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Students, Teachers Strive to Balance Current Events with Curriculum

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Placed near the B-wing of classes , the

Placed near the B-wing of classes , the "The Mediterranean Refugee Crisis" poster features statistics on the current humanitarian crisis.

Photo credit: Devon Byers

Photo credit: Devon Byers

Placed near the B-wing of classes , the "The Mediterranean Refugee Crisis" poster features statistics on the current humanitarian crisis.

By Maya Al Sabeh, Features Editor

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History classes at Dos Pueblos High School promise to provide students with knowledge about the past and its relation to the present in hopes of making students understand the nature and direction of society, but the extent to which this goal is being fulfilled in DPHS classrooms is a bit unclear.

With current events like the Syrian War and Refugee crisis being glazed over in the curriculum, students are missing out on opportunities to be well-versed in international matters.

The ongoing Syrian War is the result of religious and civil conflicts and began in 2011 as a series of revolutionary anti-government uprisings known as the Arab Spring.

This crisis, however, is not merely about Aleppo, Syria or the Middle East for that matter, rather it extends to everyone around the world, even DPHS. Although the school may not be physically affected by what is going in Syria, students should feel a sense of moral responsibility for caring and raising awareness of the issue.

Matt York, Advanced Placement (AP) and College Prep (CP) history teacher at DP, had some eye-opening responses concerning the lack of knowledge on world affairs. Mr. York said that his AP classes have not been able to discuss the Syrian Refugee crisis due to the stiffness of AP curriculum.

“I would say that it is an area that we are deficient in especially more in the AP classes because we have to get through so much of the material,” he said. “We underrepresent most current events, but we don’t have much freedom with AP.”

Despite the limitations, York firmly believes that students should become better informed on world issues and encourages such discussion in his classes. In terms of the Syrian Refugee crisis, his CP class tends to have a greater focus on the matter.

“I cover a lot of that in my CP…class and we watch a lot of CNN student news,” York said. “When there are things that are relevant we talk about them.”

Both York and Liz Bush, a fellow history teacher at DP, believe that being exposed to such news platforms not only allows students to be familiar with what is happening in the world around them, but it allows them to form connections and find solutions to such issues.

Ironically, her International Baccalaureate (IB) students miss out on discussing international issues as their major goals are to prepare for the IB exam in the spring.

“IB does a lot less because it is geared towards preparation for the exam and the exam rejects anything recent or within ten years prior,” Bush said. “We are so limited in the time preparing for the exam that we just don’t do it.”

Bush’s CP classes, like York’s, have some leeway with the curriculum and get more opportunities to enlighten themselves about international events.

“I really try to examine the implications both domestically and internationally with common core questions,” Bush said, “which are based on district professional development from 2013.”

As far as student interest goes, there is not a lot of hype on the matter in her classroom.

“They’re just straight clueless,” she said, “So I’m going to reintroduce an ongoing current events project that allows them to investigate, select, and connect back to our common core questions and parts of our study this year.”

Finding a way to discuss and raise awareness amongst the student body for relevant social and political issues like the Syrian refugee crisis is a priority for the Current Events Club.

Jean-Michel Ricard, current DP senior and president of The Current Events Club, says “There are major events going on that concern all of us, but people have no idea about them and our goal is to educate the public at DP and potentially larger.”

While talking about the scale of the crisis, Ricard said, “The crisis is a pretty universally human problem; being ejected from your home and tortured by warfare and this warfare keeps on going… there’s just a significant lack of empathy in the world for it and we do hope to help them in some way.”

Ricard and his peers have spent numerous club meetings talking about the conflict and are planning on extending information about the Mediterranean crisis to the public.

“We are creating a poster detailing the Mediterranean refugee crisis and the fallout from Afghanistan and especially Syria,” Ricard said. “So that’s going to be a pretty big poster and it’s gonna be posted by the library and updated frequently.”

Ricard believes it is highly important that people raise awareness for the issue.

“It’s such a large problem and it’s affecting so many people,” Ricard said. “So to go on as if nothing is happening is not a proper thing for us to do.”

Senior Katie Yang, this year’s president of the Red Cross Club, is also hoping to lend a hand in bringing attention to what is going on in the Middle East.

“I am really excited about this bake sale we do for our club called Bake for Humanities,” she says. “It’s basically a bake sale that helps fundraise money for the Red Cross and those in need who are supported by the organization.”

With every baked good sold, the club attaches a message or fact about those who they are fundraising for; making people more aware of what is happening in the world around them.

DP clubs and teachers are one example of how some effort and initiative can spread the message of universal hospitality and raise awareness about this tragic humanitarian conflict.

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Students, Teachers Strive to Balance Current Events with Curriculum