Oakbrook Preparatory School

21st Century Skills with a Purpose: Oakbrook students raise more than $5,000 through Christmas Missions Bazaar

Our Five Talents, Oakbrook’s student-led giving foundation comprised of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, raised more than $5,000 that will go towards helping students and teachers support projects that are specifically designed to carry out the Gospel both locally and globally. The foundation’s name is based on Matthew 25 The Parable of the Talents, which encourages Christians to use their individual gifts to serve others.

The sweet aroma of cookies, hot chocolate, and pies filled Oakbrook's halls during Thursday's third annual Christmas Missions Bazaar. While the fragrances have drifted, the impact will be felt for months to come.

Our Five Talents, Oakbrook’s student-led giving foundation comprised of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, raised more than $5,000 that will go towards helping students and teachers support projects that are specifically designed to carry out the Gospel both locally and globally. The foundation’s name is based on Matthew 25 The Parable of the Talents, which encourages Christians to use their individual gifts to serve others.

The funds raised by the foundation came primarily through middle school students using their talents in Thursday’s annual bazaar. They sold homemade goodies, played music, and even repurposed items to earn money for their foundation. In March, the students will accept applications and begin the process of awarding gifts to assist students and teachers in using their talents as well to carry out the love of Christ through various missions and service projects both locally and worldwide. 

" I love that their hard work, inspired by their own ideas, doesn't end with a sale - but with impacted lives. They are learning that in all that they do, they can glorify God," said Christian Education Director Merissa Ramantanin, who helped her students develop this project.

Last year’s grants benefited Oakbrook’s Nicaragua Missions Team, Rice Bowls, Spartanburg Inner City Ministry, Good Shepherd Children’s Home in Honduras, and several others.

While the culmination of this project will take place in March, the learning and preparation began back in September as the middle school students collaborated with upper schoolers and community leaders to learn basic economics, entrepreneurship, and marketing. Students reached out to local sponsors, as well as prepared business and marketing plans.

Meanwhile, student grant readers worked to determine the guidelines for applicants. They heard from Mary Thomas, Chief Operating Officer from the Spartanburg County Foundation, who visited the school to educate students on the purpose of grants and the responsibilities of grant readers.

"Being a part of this project and seeing its impact is amazing," said Eighth grader Becca Painter. "We know it's so much bigger than this."

The multifaceted project doesn’t hasn't ended. Today, students are reflecting on what was – or wasn’t – successful and brainstorming how they can make improvements for next year.

“The Christmas Missions Bazaar is a prime example of 21st Century Project-based, Strength-based, relevant learning. Just as there are important skills to master in math, English, science, Spanish, band, computer keyboarding, etc., there are many soft skills being learned in this process. These skills may be more difficult to measure, but their impact on our students' future success is immeasurable,” said Middle School Director Dawn Rollins.

Mrs. Ramantanin and Mrs. Rollins presented this model in November at the National Conference for the Association for Middle Level Education in Ohio. And now several schools are hoping to implement something similar for their students.

“The missions bazaar is a great example of 21st century skills with a purpose. The students learned a real world applicable set of skills from market research and product development to marketing and sales. However, this experience imparted a valuable life lesson well beyond soft skills. Students are learning about the importance of missions and service above self. I believe these experiences are what make our school great,” said Head of School Adair Hinds.

“I am so thankful to our teachers and parents for working together to lay the foundation for young people to recognize a need and use their God-given talents to propose a solution.”

Click here to read today's article in the Spartanburg Herald-Journal.  See photos from the Bazaar below. You can view a complete photo gallery here.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Christmas Missions Bazaar is an example of 21st century skills with a purpose. Here are some of the valuable skils they have acquired through this experience.

Critical Thinking: research and create a business plan, what will sell, cost of expenses vs profit. Grant Readers worked together deciding on the amount to award applicants, if applicants met the requirements.

Creativity: artisans, design & marketing, led by their interests and skills.

Communication: students become business partners, advertising/marketing,

Collaboration: High School Econ students invited to instructed the middle school students in basic economics, entrepreneurship, and marketing - product, place, price, promotion, profit, and loss.

I AM HIS: Lower School students learn what it means to find their Identity in Christ

Children in preschool through fourth grade are learning not only know who God is, but understanding who they are in Christ - created by Him with purpose and loved unconditionally.

\\

I Am…

Created by God

Loved by God

Forgiven by God

Saved by grace through faith

A new creation

Alive with Christ

A child of God

A friend of God

HIS

 

Oakbrook Preparatory School students attend chapel each Wednesday. The themes range from books of the Bible to issues facing kids and teens in today’s world.

For the last several weeks, Oakbrook’s lower school students have been learning about what it truly means to find their identity in Christ.

“Because of the decision to focus on habits in the preschool I wanted our chapel lessons to be the delivery system for that,” said Lower School Director Vickie Bolduc, who enlisted the help of Mrs. Julie McNeely.

“My desire is for chapel to be focused on God's truths and not just a list of good things that we can do. Good people all over the world are kind to others, follow laws and rules, do good things, help the needy, etc. I really wanted our students to begin to grasp the why of these good deeds – that God first loved us and that the decisions we make in life are based on our relationship with Him.”  

Mrs. McNeely has been sharing with children in preschool through through fourth grade not only who God is, but has been helping them to understand who they are in Christ - created by Him with a purpose and loved unconditionally.

McNeely is using “I Am” statements to help students keep these truths in their hearts and use them when they encounter difficult situations from playground squabbles to disappointments.

Each week students are presented with a Bible Verse as well as an “I am” statement. Teachers also work this into the culture of their classroom and relate it back to behavior. More importantly, they help students see it as their “why,” their motivator to make God-centered choices.

“Our prayer is for Oakbrook students to bear spiritual fruit even at a young age – not because of anything we have done, but because of what we allowed the Holy Spirit to do in and through us,” McNeely said.

“Every character habit we emphasize, every rule we teach, every social skill we model and reinforce: seeing them take root in the classroom is directly correlated to the students grasping who they are in Christ.”

AP Capstone gaining momentum throughout the U.S.

"AP Seminar and AP Research are terrific classes that prepare students to think in non-formulaic ways," says Stuart Scmill, Dean of Admissions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Oakbrook was the first school in the state of South Carolina to offer the prestigious AP Capstone, a two-year sequence of study where students gain valuable research, critical thinking, and communication skills. Schools throughout the United States have been reaching out to us to learn about our experience. The AP Capstone is an innovative diploma program that helps students stand out in the college admissions process by developing the skills necessary to succeed in college and in life.

The two courses - AP Seminar and AP Research - allow students to immerse themselves in topics that matter to them while developing the analytic, research, problem-solving, and communication skills that selective colleges seek in an applicant. The feedback so far from colleges has been positive. "AP Seminar and AP Research are terrific classes that prepare students to think in nonformulaic ways," says Stuart Scmill, Dean of Admissions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

The instructional foundation of the AP Capstone is QUEST - Question and explore, Understand and analyze, Evaluate multiple perspectives, Synthesize ideas, and Team, transform, and transmit. Throughout the two-course sequence, students consider multiple points of view to develop their own perspectives on complex issues through inquiry and investigation. The program provides students with a framework to develop their critical reasoning skills as they make connections between various issues. 

Oakbrook students help rebuild Cleveland Park

Oakbrook's Interact Club members joined forces with several community groups and leaders to help build a new playground at Cleveland Park in Spartanburg.

Oakbrook's Interact Club members joined forces with several community groups and leaders to help build a new playground at Cleveland Park in Spartanburg. 

The old playground one was torn down in 2011 after a children’s train derailed, killing a 6 year old and injuring more than two dozen others. Oakbrook students said they wanted to get involved so chidren could once again enjoy a playground that was once special to them.

"I can remember going to Cleveland Park as a child and I wanted to be a part of the rebuilding so that more children can have those same memories I have," said junior Sarah Keim, who is also a member of Oakbrook's Student Government and Girls Varsity Basketball.

The students spent several hours at the park building a swing and painting several attractions. Spartanburg Parks and Recreation officials said the playground's design has elements of Spartanburg's history and culture. It features a peach shed, playhouse and Revolutionary War mural. The playground also has other features such as a balance beam, climbing wall, slides, a water wheel, and a swinging platform. 

A play area will be designed for specifically for 2- to 5-year-olds, and another will be designed for 5- to 12-year-olds. After the playground is complete, a fully accessible rubberized play surface will be installed. The playground is expected to open this month.

"We were very happy to be involved in this project," said senior Daniel Stephenson, Interact Club president. 

"It was one small way we could be a part of something really big in the lives of kids and families in Spartanburg."

Oakbrook students contribute to Healing Classrooms program

Oakbrook students partnered with Students Rebuild, a nonprofit organization, to help create safe classrooms for school age children from Syria who are now refugees.

Oakbrook students partnered with Students Rebuild, a nonprofit organization, to help create safe classrooms for school age children from Syria who are now refugees.

Middle and Upper School students spent their Chapel hearing the story of one Syrian student living in a war torn nation. After the program, the students made pinwheels that were given to the Healing Classrooms program, which donated $2 for each one. Oakbrook students made a total of 465 pinwheels, earning $930 towards providing these children a safe and loving classroom.

"We learned of our Biblical response to this crisis - love our neighbors," said Oakbrook's Director of Christian Education Merissa Ramantanin. "With the making of a simple toy, a paper pinwheel, hope for a future is given to other children. We also pray that the Syrian refugee children, in their new classrooms, would hear the everlasting hope that comes through Jesus."

Pinwheel making didn't stop there, the eighth grade students visited lower school classrooms and shared how together they can help even more children.

Since the civil war began, nearly 11 million Syrians have fled their homes. Of those, more than four million Syrians have sought refuge in neighboring countries of Lebanon, Northern Iraq, Jordan and Turkey. According to studentsrebuild.org, nearly six million children have been affected by their country’s civil war and on average, it takes 17 years for most refugees to return home. This means millions of Syrian children will likely spend most—or all—of their childhood as refugees.

The International Rescue Committee partners with schools in crisis zones to create Healing Classrooms—paired with support from parents and the community—so children can recover, grow, develop and learn. Healing Classrooms trains teachers in special techniques to engage conflict-affected children with social-emotional learning opportunities and to create secure, nurturing learning environments. Funds generated by the Challenge will support the IRC’s Healing Classrooms programs which:

  • Equip teachers with skills to create safe, nurturing spaces where children can recover, grow, develop and learn.
  • Create learning environments that provide children with a sense of normalcy, structure and stability to promote their well-being.
  • Provide opportunities for children to build self-esteem and strengthen their interpersonal skills.
  • Lay the groundwork for refugees to eventually return, reintegrate and become peacebuilders in their communities.

Want to learn more about the Healing Classrooms program? Click here.


Administrator Login