Community hears presentation on the Bartleby Project

Published 10:13 pm Thursday, October 27, 2016

Star Photo/Curtis Carden                           Students that created the Bartleby Project are recognized during a special banquet held Thursday at TCAT – Elizabethton.

Star Photo/Curtis Carden
Students that created the Bartleby Project are recognized during a special banquet held Thursday at TCAT – Elizabethton.

With notoriety coming nationwide, students of Elizabethton High School recently had the chance to share their way of rethinking the modern classroom with residents.
Over 40 businesses within the community joined together at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) – Elizabethton in Stoney Creek Thursday to hear about the Bartleby Project.
Taking the bull by the horns, students of Alex Campbell’s sociology class from the 2015-16 complied a presentation to XQ America for the recent XQ Super School Project where $50 million in awards were provided to schools. With over 700 schools applying from across the country and over 10,000 students taking part in the event – EHS’ project finished 11th in nation, garnering the school a $200,000 grant and provided each of the students in the class a $1,000 scholarship.
Sebastian Turner, special projects lead with XQ America, made the flight to Elizabethton from California to address attendees and was quick to dish out the praise.
“This was the largest open call to schools across the country,” Turner said. “I’ve had a chance to tour the school and everyone has been great. The young people here are on the right track.”
Turner commended the Elizabethton Board of Education’s recent announcement of allowing a student liasion to be part of the board – a result from the project.
“That’s been incredible,” Turner said. “To open up a spot on the board for a student … I’m a former teacher. Hearing that is great news to have a student take part in workings of a school system.”
As members of the community, ranging from local and state government, education systems, businesses and organization, took part in the event – Turner stressed the importance of community.
“That’s the one word I’ve heard the most,” he said. “We know this project that we can’t change the world, this will only help. That lies with the community and I see this project going far with the support coming from the community.”
Noted as a “watershed moment“ by XQ presenters, students submitted a 70-page proposal last year that focused on experiential learning, community service and group based learning as a way for other students to think critically on how to solve issues that benefit local needs. Students that took part in ‘Bartleby’ would not have textbooks and not have grades, solely passed based on their ability to work.
The idea of the project stemmed from “Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street,” written by author Herman Melville.
To pay his own respects, the great grandson of Melville, Duncan Osborne, provided a video message to express his respect to the students and to give them praise of the project.
“Hats off to you,” Osborne said to cap off his message, after giving history of Melville.
The context of Melville’s story is about a Wall Street lawyer who hires a clerk and after an expanded workload, decides to stop doing the tasks.
The key phrase uttered throughout the book is “I would prefer not to,”, EHS teacher Daniel Proffitt, who was one of three teachers that assisted in the project, explained to attendees.
“I want to thank these students for their hard work,” he said.
The idea of the book was to think outside the box, which students were able to do with the project.
During a presentation of the project, the school system is looking to have two classes implemented within the curriculum, one based community involvement and another on being entrepreneurs. Students that will take these classes will be juniors or seniors and be selected by a board, and so will the teachers for each class.
The community-based class will see students reaching out to the business leaders, nonprofit organization and other entities for ways how to better serve the community. For the entrepreneur class, students and teachers will go through the same selection process, according to Campbell.
Students who take the class will receive around $500 for the business endeavor. At the end of the school year, students would be asked to return that money and if any extra is profited, it would go toward a capstone activity.
The Elizabethton BOE chair Rita Booher also commended the students with a proclamation as students were recognized in front of the audience.
“We want everyone to be a stakeholder with this school,” EHS instructor Dustin Hensley said. “We want to thank everyone for coming out tonight.”

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