Geography with a cause: APHG students serve their communities

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Olivia Dawson

Ms. Allison Hunt teaches her APHG students. Photo by Olivia Evans.
Ms. Allison Hunt (Social Studies) lectures during one of her Human Geography classes. Photo by Olivia Evans.

All Advanced Placement Human Geography (APHG) students will be required this year to participate in self-directed service learning projects as part of the College Board’s AP with WE.org program.

Ms. Allison Hunt (Social Studies) initially advocated for the community service program to be brought to Manual, and the College Board selected the school to pilot the initiative.

“College Board determined about a year or two ago that they wanted to add a service requirement or option to AP classes,” Hunt said. “They selected six courses to be pre-pilot classes for this, and APHG was one of them. They selected two teachers from each subject as guinea pigs to be the first ones to develop some material and modules to implement the service project into the course.”

Students are working in groups of four to six to design and complete their projects, which they could choose to center around the topics of either health or food security.

Chris Tran (9, MST) said that the initially daunting task of organizing a service initiative from scratch has been easier than he expected.

“We’re teaming up with Dare to Care to run a canned food drive,” Tran said. “I thought it would be really hard when we first teamed up because we didn’t really know each other, but it’s working well now. It’s also about teamwork and coming together to better ourselves.”

Some students are even using this project as an opportunity to more deeply analyze the issue of food security in the city.

“First, we are going to … reach out to places like Dare to Care, or the Neighborhood House in Portland and other places like that,” Melanie Hughes (9, HSU) said. “We will volunteer there and see what those people go through every day so we can help them out more.”

According to Hunt, participating in service learning provides many long-term benefits for students.

“This year’s freshman will be the only ones in the country to gain an AP service recognition, and it can go on their college applications,” she said. “We have seen students develop long term passions which later turn into careers. It helps them identify other overlooked issues within the community and help bring awareness to them.”

The College Board has also developed AP with WE.org curricula for their AP Computer Science, AP Environmental Science, AP Spanish Language and Culture, AP European History and AP Studio Art courses, though Manual teachers are not piloting any of these other programs this year.