Ybarra Academy discusses social issues in Rowland Unified

The elementary student snuggled in his nest of newspapers, trying to get comfortable. Victor Sepulveda, 12, offered him more papers to use as a blanket at Ybarra Academy of Arts and Technology in Walnut.

Sixth graders throughout the sprawling Rowland Unified campus were presenting their International Baccalaureate projects for their final grades. Each team of students delved into a important issue to explore the problem’s cause and possible solution.

Victor was making a poignant point about poverty in Brazil. His team had also built a small cardboard shack to represent the homes of poor families in the South American country. He had a parent join three students in the paper house.

“Many children don’t go to school there,” the IB student explained. “They often work 9 hours straight in dirty jobs and get paid 58 cents an hour.”

Across the campus, another team was talking about the plight of the homeless in America. Phoebe Sales, 12, Rachel Song, Amber Delpina and Carmen Miranda, all 11, decided to reach out to the homeless in our area.

“We wanted to make blessing bags to give out,” Carmen explained. “So we’re giving a bag to each student to make a small care package for the homeless.”

Students lined up to put soap, band aids, combs, water and tissues among other items into the blessing bags. They included a small card of encouragement.

“The sixth graders spend a couple months working on their projects. They do all the research, compile information and create an activity to share with the younger students,” said IB coordinator Mariela Moscal. “Their presentations have been very professional.”

Another team of six graders explored the issue of social stereotypes. They wanted their classmates at Ybarra to realize some of the prejudices they may find in the outside world.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story ISSUES.

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