D128 to start Global Scholars Program next school year

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VHHS will offer the new Illinois Global Scholars Program starting the 2019-2020 school year. The program is focused on global courses and projects and strives to develop students who want to positively impact the world.

Upon completion of the program, students will receive a certificate on their transcript to send to prospective colleges and universities.
To successfully complete the program, a student will have to take eight globally-focused classes throughout their four years, including the Global Scholars Experience class, which will be offered to juniors and seniors.

Along with taking the eight courses, students will need to engage in one globally-focused learning experience, experience one global collaboration/dialogue opportunity, pass the performance-based capstone assessment and maintain an individual portfolio of artifacts.

The class will count as an elective credit.

Currently, 23 courses offered at VHHS meet the “globally-focused” criteria. Classes like AP European History, World Literature and Composition, Concert Choir and Crossfit are included.

Teachers submitted proposals to the Global Scholars Committee to have their courses nominated for the Scholars Program, and the Committee reviewed the curriculum of the class; the curriculum needed to meet certain guidelines to become part of the accepted courses.

Mr. Stilling said that the number of classes would be sure to expand in the coming years.

However, the limited number of Global Scholar-approved classes, coupled with a shorter time frame left to take them compared to incoming freshmen, may cause some upperclassmen to lose interest in the program.

“I looked into the requirements, and I wouldn’t be able to make them in two years, so I stopped looking into [the program],” Mira Singh (10) said.

The program started when Seth Brady, a comparative religions teacher at Naperville Central High School, pushed for a bill in 2016 that would allow school districts to offer the certificate to students that met the five requirements.

The bill passed, and the program first debuted at Naperville Unit District 203 last year. Students that took the eight required classes worked on the extensive final capstone project on an international issue they were passionate about.

For example, one Naperville student researched how to prevent future outbreaks of Ebola in Sierra Leone. The student had to contact doctors and volunteers who previously worked in Ebola hospitals. Her project, a coded online game, was played in classrooms in Sierra Leone.

VHHS students seeking the certificate, starting with the graduating class of 2020, will be required to complete a similar, globally-focused capstone project in order to receive the certificate.

Brady commented that the students who have completed the program in the past years felt it is challenging and valuable, as well as worth the effort.

“Students report the development of confidence as well as soft skills such as writing a professional email, speaking professionally on the phone, time management, self-reliance and cultural sensitivity,” Brady said. “Students in college now report that they feel extremely prepared not just academically, but socially or professionally,” he added.

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