Rancho Santa Fe students and classmates honored by U.S. Department of Education


A service learning project involving Rancho Santa Fe residents Michaela Fisher, Hunter Headapohl, Haley Klaus, Dillon Lerach, Katilyn Perry, Meredith Wislar, and more than a dozen of their classmates at Pacific Ridge School, was named one of four winners in this year’s U.S. Department of Education Startup Challenge.

The students are part of Global Vantage, a chapter of the Global Journal Project. The organization, which began as a service learning group at Pacific Ridge School, is now a nonprofit platform through which students and school communities share stories and thereby form relationships across geographical and cultural boundaries. GJP brings together “chapters” of three-school partnerships that work together to create their own unique print and online magazines to share the stories of their communities. The inaugural chapter, Global Vantage, began as a collaboration among Pacific Ridge School, The Taft School in Watertown, Conn., and the Kibera Girls Soccer Academy (KGSA) in Kibera, Kenya. The Global Journal Project’s three-school service learning model is meant to be replicated, with one participating school from a developing country benefitting directly from the collaboration.

This past May, the Global Vantage group submitted its service learning work to the U.S. Department of Education Startup Challenge. The awards program recognizes students’ innovative solutions to education problems. Students from across the country submitted their business plans and video pitches. Submissions were judged by a panel of prominent educators and entrepreneurs, and the Global Vantage group was named one of four overall winners.

Also this month, Global Vantage, the student-run magazine bearing the same name, was awarded a Gold Medal by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. Each year, students who run newspapers, magazines, yearbooks or online media are invited to submit their products to the Association’s experienced adviser-judges. Since 1925, the CSPA has offered annual prizes for student media, and this year, Global Vantage earned a score of 932 out of 1,000, placing it in the top one percent of all submissions. Winning the Gold Medal has qualified Global Vantage to advance to the next round to compete for the Gold Crown, the highest recognition given by the CSPA to a student print or online medium for overall excellence. The Gold Crown and Silver Crown Awards will be awarded in March 2013.

In addition, RSF’s Hunter Headapohl, Global Vantage’s editor, has just received the Gold Circle Award in “Non-Fiction Column” from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. Hunter is the sole recipient of the Gold Circle Award in his category of “Non-Fiction Column.”

The Global Journal Project is one of many service learning groups at Pacific Ridge School. Service learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich each student’s academic experience, teach civic and ethical responsibility, and strengthen communities for the common good. Built into the curriculum and the school day, the service learning program at Pacific Ridge School guides students as they take abstract concepts from the classroom to apply them in real-world situations. Students meet during a weekly class period to gain academic, teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving skills that will assist them in their various projects, which vary by grade. Service learning projects require students to collaborate with both local and global communities in order to reach very concrete goals.

The next issue of Global Vantage will be available on Nov. 16.