As part of her British Literature class Ludlow High School senior, Elizabeth Rodio, completed a self-directed project that took her on a journey to explore and research topics that was of interest to her, based on the principles of the Genius Hour movement. What is Genius Hour? According to their website, Genius Hour is a movement that allows students to explore their own passions and encourages creativity in the classroom. It provides students a choice in what they learn during a set period of time during school.
After choosing a topic - environmental awareness and our responsibility to respect and protect it - Elizabeth had to create a unique, final project that informed and inspired others about her topic. Over a time slot of about three months, Elizabeth did extensive research and reached out to others to develop a deeper understanding of her topic. She also targeted her audience and formulated a way that she would share her topic with others; deciding to write a short play geared for young children.
“I actively participate in a lot of theater, and I also love hiking and being outdoors,” explained Rodio when asked about why she decided to write a play about saving the environment. “When I’m outside, one of the most common things I come across is litter, and so I decided that I would combine my love of theater, and the outdoors, to create a short skit about saving the environment. I wanted to be able to entertain the students as I taught them something, as opposed to just throwing information at them in the hopes that something would stick. The skit is full of information, mixed with humor and opposing viewpoints, to convey the message that I wanted to share with the students: instead of littering, it's important to recycle so that the earth is kept in good shape.”
“I chose to direct this to younger audiences because children are the deciding factor in how this earth will be sustained,” continued Rodio about her project. “I believe that it's crucial for them to understand that they need to protect the planet because it has been hurt so badly by the people who came before them. If they begin making differences now, then I hope that they will continue to have a positive impact as they grow older.”
Because her play is geared towards a younger audience she and her cast members, LHS seniors Amanda Alves and Casey Banville, travelled to each of the elementary schools to perform the short play. Rodio explained that she performed for Ms. Arsenault's kindergarten class and Mrs. Dolan's 1st grade class at East Street School, Mrs.Coelho's 2nd grade class at Chapin Street School and the 5th grade green team at Veterans Park School.
“The skits they performed gave our students information about the consequences that littering can have on people, animals, and the air we breathe,” shared Dolan. “It was not only entertaining but also a nice reminder about how we all should be responsible and proactive to help keep the Earth clean and safe.”
“My class really enjoyed Elizabeth's play,” added Arsenault. “She did an excellent job reminding us all how important it is to recycle and how each of us can help take of the Earth.”
Following the performances students also participated in a short question and answer session. At Veterans Park students enjoyed the opportunity to not only ask specific questions about how they can keep the environment safe and clean but also directed questions about the play, such as how long it took to write the script and the of amount research Rodio had to do in order to present all the information.
5th grader, Aidan White echoed the sentiments of all audience members when he commented, "That was a very informative skit, and it was really funny.”
Thanks to Ms. Nicole Sousa, Veterans Park music teacher, we welcome you to watch a brief video clip below from their performance at Veterans Park.