Osborn Evergreen Academy of Design and Alternative Energy emphasizes technology and eco-friendly practices

At Osborn Evergreen Academy of Design and Alternative Energy, students are engaged in virtual learning in one of DPS’ small, self-governing high schools that is focused on college-readiness. Felicia Cook, fourth-year principal at Osborn Evergreen, has transformed the school’s reputation by infusing its curriculum with technology and an eco-friendly culture dominated by student cooperation and achievement.

Virtual classrooms, which enhance student ability to learn online, are only a part of the reason student achievement is advancing at Osborn Evergreen, where its 11th and 12th grade students are involved in E2020, a turnkey digital learning environment featuring lectures, assignments and homework.

With one of Osborn’s core components being design, the school’s art program plays a critical role in shaping the students’ creative eye. Through Osborn Evergreen’s art program, students create ceramics, pottery, web design, paintings and free-hand drawings. Students have even used technology to design some elaborate car sketches.

Pierre Hawkins, an 11th grade student at Osborn Evergreen, expressed his enthusiasm toward art and design as he proudly shared a sample of his work on his Smartphone. “I think every student should have the opportunity to experience art,” he said.

Student-designed showcase windows are displayed throughout the school, many showcasing recycled material. Each month, several students are designated a window and act as ‘artistic directors’ in designing and executing the completion of the showcases. Students can use the showcase as a creative muse and paint, draw and assemble a masterpiece. Students have even designed three dimensional showcase displays.

Teaching students to be echo-conscious through science

Biology and Environmental Science teacher Ashley Marderosian infuses real-world concepts into her classroom by utilizing the 5E (engagement, exploration, explanation, elaboration and evaluation) Lesson Plan Template, which allows students to explore the material before she reveals the answer.

“It’s easy to get involved with real-world practices such as eco-conscious activities when you teach science,” Marderosian said.

Working with the environment and getting the local community involved is something Osborn Evergreen students do best. This year, the students worked with the Conner Creek Elderly Living to design and build flowerbeds that were installed around the Osborn campus.

“The students, as well as our community, have done a great job at cleaning up our campus and giving it a great look and feel. In the spring time, students will be designing and displaying their recycled sculptures to aid in the beautification of our campus,” Cook said.

Osborn Evergreen also has a highly active Recycling Program led by Marderosian. The Urban Farming Club and Environmental Club meet regularly to discuss what new and innovative projects students and staff can get involved with to help make their school more ‘green.’

Teaching students to become leaders

Aside from helping them learn how to have a better appreciation of the environment, Cook is in sync with her young scholars and realizes communication is what drives her students to work hard.

Osborn Evergreen’s Student Council members have been deemed the “heartbeat of the school.” They are the “eyes and ears” on campus and take on many responsibilities at the school.

“Here at Osborn, we want to make sure our students are educated on character, integrity and accountability,” Cook said. “That’s why open communication between staff and students is so important.”

Osborn Evergreen 11th grade student Kitara Hamilton previously attended a different school and said there was no connection for her there.

“The school was so big it was to the point where the principal didn’t even know me, and you just had to get to your class,” she said. “I love Osborn because here they communicate with you and actually make you want to go to class.”

Hamilton was featured on FOX 2 to represent the Osborn Safety Station, an after-school program at Osborn open to 9th, 10th, and 11th graders. The Safety Station is committed to fostering a violence-free culture where young people can thrive. The Safety Station executive board members are often called upon by Cook and other teachers to rally students for assemblies and other activities regarding safety, violence prevention and positive youth development.

A critical part of Detroit Public Schools new Strategic Plan has been the Safe Routes Program and a Call to Action to generate more volunteers to help ensure all students get to and from school safely.

“There are many kids, teenagers and little ones who walk to school by themselves. We need adults and other authoritative figures to look out for us so that we get to school safely,” Hamilton said.

In early August, Detroit Public Schools announced a broad expansion of its Citizens Patrol programs to vastly increase Safe Routes for Detroit children and their families going to and from school.

The expanded citizens patrols, which are part of a comprehensive, multi-agency program has already proven to reduce incidents.

Editor’s Note: Osborn Evergreen Academy of Design and Alternative Energy is located at 11600 East 7 Mile Road in Detroit. For more information call: 313.866.0343. For those interested in volunteering for the school patrols, call: 313.748.6008

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