Students in The School for Applied Research, also know as the TSAR Program, at Mahar Regional School in Orange have a history of taking on projects that help improve the community they live in. Past projects include the creation of a student running club, development of a web site to help youth who are aging out of foster care, and starting a competition to help reduce cafeteria waste.
One of this year’s projects is the revitalization of a local basketball court. And as Producer Dave Fraser found out, this court is so much more than just a place to shoot hoops.
Read the transcript:
Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: Students in The School for Applied Research, or TSAR program, at Mahar Regional School in Orange have a history of taking on projects that help improve the community they live in. Past projects include the creation of a student running club, development of a website to help youth who are aging out of foster care, and starting a competition to help reduce cafeteria waste.
One of this year’s projects is the revitalization of a local basketball court. But as producer Dave Frazier found out, this court is so much more than just a place to shoot hoops.
Siobhan Davis, Mahar Regional Senior: We basically grew up here on this court, so it’s really important to us to make sure that we can give it the love that it’s given us kind of thing.
Dave Fraser: Google it and it comes up 95 East River Street. But ask any kid in the town of Orange and they’ll tell you this is Double Rims.
Lauren Cerillo, T.S.A.R Program: I was not as aware of Double Rims, as they affectionately call it, until this year. And this story has or this project has sparked so much interest in our school community because as it turns out, a large portion of our students come here. And this is like the rec area.
Dave Fraser: When senior Abbie Henne was thinking of a project for her School of Applied Research program, she wanted to keep it local and focus on a place that had been a big part of her life growing up.
Abbie Henne, Mahar Regional Senior: Ever since I was in elementary school, I would always come here with all my friends after school and we’d play basketball. But over the years the ground started deteriorating and everything was not as well as it was when we started here.
So, I thought, “oh, this would be a perfect opportunity. And I know a lot of the kids in my grade will appreciate it, too.”
Dave Fraser: Hennie and three of her classmates met remotely with town select board members to explain their project called Revamp the Rims.
Abbie Henne: The basketball courts are deteriorating and in desperate need of repair. Do not let the wear and tear fool you. The condition of the court is a clear reflection of the lives so many of our community members have for the game of basketball. And this is evident to anyone who passed by the court on any given day.
Dave Fraser: The goal of the TSAR program is to get students away from the typical teacher-led AP and honors courses and get them out of the classroom, immersing themselves in a program that demands design thinking and intensive collaboration, all while helping to address solutions in their community and the world.
Lauren Cerillo: The students decide what it is that they are passionate about and what they want to dig into. And then we facilitate and help to lead them through the process of making change in their community.
Joh Speek, T.S.A.R. Program: Through two years with these kids have cultivated the idea that they can do this, that they that they can make their own decisions, and be responsible for those decisions themselves, both in their academic life and in this communal life.
Dave Fraser: Part of the project included getting their hands dirty, cleaning up the grounds, trimming bushes, building planter boxes and painting a mural that will line the court.
Hannah DuPont, Mahar Regional Senior: We want it to really grab people’s attention while they’re driving by, which is why we’re putting it on the back fence. And they each symbolize something different. The two that we’re going to focus on today, one is going to be a basketball, one is going to be a flower, because it’s going to symbolize agriculture stuff around here, the growth, because we’re going to implement planter boxes, things like that.
Siobhan Davis: I was involved because of my research with food insecurity and injustice in the community. My piece of it is I’m building a planter boxes over there, kind of bringing in food access in this area.
Christopher Venzina, Mahar Regional Senior: We’re really just clearing out some of this area just so it’ll it’ll look a look a bit nicer and so we can start to clean it up a bit. We want to replace the backboards and stuff just to get some better stuff in here.
Dave Fraser: The town’s community development director, Alec Wade, is working with the students to help them apply for a Parkland, Acquisitions and Renovations for communities, or PARC grant.
Alec Wade, Director of Community Development: It’s really rare that you see especially a group of students approach you with a project on this scale.
Once I heard the background story of what they were proposing, the reasoning behind it, their history with the site, it was a no-brainer at that point.
Dave Fraser: And for Abbie Henne, the experience of managing this project for her class has been a tremendous one. She plans to go on to school for criminal justice, but says this project has definitely made an impact on her and her classmates.
Abbie Henne: Picking teams, interviewing my team members, all of that. And I actually kind of like the environment that I put myself in. So I’m actually going to minor in public relations, too, to be out there and be surrounded by people in this type of environment.
Siobhan Davis: I think that definitely working with the TSAR program, it kind of highlights the fact that kids are often underestimated. If you give us the time, you give us the kind of hope, and the backing and the support, we really can do a lot of amazing stuff.