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Corona del Mar Students Take Action to Positively Influence Global Issues

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Students Take Action to Positively Influence Global Issues

Newport-Mesa Unified School District is known for offering a wide variety of programs and opportunities to pique students’ interest, and truly prepare them for life beyond high school. However, some students are not only preparing for the outside world, they are already actively changing it.


Now in its fourth year, the Academy of Global Studies (AGS) at Corona del Mar (CdM) High School is making tremendous progress in teaching students to think critically, evaluate current events and global issues, and encouraging students to be actively engaged with the global community.


The four-year AGS program offers a full spectrum of Advanced Placement courses designed to foster critical thinking skill-based collaboration and problem solving through real-world experiences. The multidisciplinary curriculum is rooted in social science, business, technology, politics, medicine, history, and foreign language. As an AP Capstone school, the Academy students learn to thoroughly evaluate the credibility of sources, develop arguments and claims, and provide evidence of facts surrounding global issues.


“The academy truly captures students’ interest and imagination because it expands their vision to a world beyond what’s just at their fingertips,” said Ms. Laura Mayberry, AGS Director. “Students are empowered to learn about varying global perspectives and approaches to today’s issues and take action to resolve them,” she said.


AGS inspires students to make informed decisions to improve global issues, such as food shortages, poverty, the world water crisis, vaccinations, and ocean exploration, to name a few. Students learn to work independently and collaborate in groups to view an issue from varying perspectives. For example, students have explored current international conflicts to have a better understanding of contemporary current events and viewed domestic topics, like vaccinations, from an economic, ethical, and medical standpoint. The ACG also hosts a yearlong speaker series which brings speakers in to discuss topics of interest to the students. 


AGS student Edward Jacobs, who will be part of the first AGS graduating class in 2018, said he, like many of his peers grew up very sheltered, with a limited view of the world. “AGS gives us a tremendous advantage to seeing the world from an international perspective, which is invaluable, especially given our current political climate and global path,” he said.


AGS fosters partnerships with non-governmental organizations, local and international non-profits, and international partnerships with schools and government leaders in many countries, such as Brazil, El Salvador, Germany, Japan, South Africa, and Turkey. One major partnership is with the Thirst Project, which works toward improving the global water crisis. The partnership between AGS and Thirst Project has brought clean water to areas around the world afflicted by the water crisis.


Through a partnership with the Thirst Project incoming ninth grade AGS class commits to partner to build a well. Students research the global water crisis, its disproportionate impact on women and children, review data on the water table, diseases, deaths, demographics, current water options, source distances, and the amount of people who would be impacted if clean water was brought to the area. Students then construct a plan of action to spread awareness of the crisis and to raise funds. Once funds are raised, students select a community to build the well and track the progress and impact the well has on the community. Each well costs approximately $12,000 and all funds raised go directly to its construction.


In its four year partnership with the Thirst Project, AGS students have raised more than $57,000 and commissioned the construction of four wells. AGS leads the nation in fundraising for the Thirst Project and last April AGS teachers Laura Mayberry and Kareem Captan were selected as Volunteers of the Year. The Academy currently has one well in Swaziland and one well in El Salvador already pumping clean water, with two additional wells in Swaziland under construction as part of the AGS student efforts. The partnership with the Thirst Project is a grassroots movement of young people and an integral part of AGS’s commitment to empowering young people to take action and to seeing themselves as part of the larger global community. This activism has already taken root as AGS students have founded an organization, YEP for Kids, which has partnered with schools here locally and in South Africa and Swaziland to teach coding to young people.


As part of AGS, students also have opportunities for international academic travel to put into practice the ideas, concepts and information learned in class to see firsthand the global perspective of today’s most pressing challenges. To learn more about this program, please visit the Academy of Global Studies Website or follow them on social media, at @AGSatCDM. You can also view a short video of the well that has brought clean water to a town in El Salvador.

Posted by: Adriana Angulo, District Admin, Newport Mesa Unified School District Published:11/17/17
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