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Bartleby holds first open house

John Thompson • Updated Dec 7, 2017 at 9:46 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The very first semester of Elizabethton High School’s Bartleby program is wrapping up and Thursday morning was a good time for the 33 juniors and seniors in the program to report on the accomplishments of the first class, which is on community improvement.

Bartleby is the creation of Elizabethton students who competed in the 2016 XQ Super School Project to invent a 21st century high school. Elizabethton’s entry in the contest was the only one done solely by students, under the direction of their teachers. While professional groups won the top prizes, the XQ judges were sufficiently impressed with Elizabethton’s 70-page proposal that the school won the Student Leadership Award and $200,000.

The Bartleby idea is to dispense with much of the traditional lectures and testing and to develop projects that demonstrate student mastery of a subject. Bartleby teacher Alex Campbell said the program also strives “to awaken a passion for learning.” He said young children have that passion, which is why they are constantly asking questions about the world around them. That passion to learn can be revitalized by allowing students to work in areas in which they have a love.

For Bartleby’s first semester, the students were enrolled in a community improvement class. They were tasked with identifying ways in which a high schooler can make a positive impact on the community.

As part of the open house, the students created booths that showed their project and how it is improving the community.

Some of the projects on display were: Strive, a mental health project developed by McKenna Kiser; Four Book Club projects developed by Megan Young, Abigail Richardson and Emily Richardson; Bartleby Jr., a project-based program for students at East Side Elementary developed by Sadie Whitehead; revitalizing Kiwanis Park by Hannah Edwards and Morgan Jones; modernizing the Elizabethton Downtown Walking Tour by Kira Dillard, Lawson Wagner and Jared Grindstaff; Painting Murals in Downtown Elizabethton, by Sarah Eggers; Tweetsie Trail Cleanup and Beautification by Caleb Skeen and William T. Turner II; Club Engagement at T.A. Dugger Junior High School, Appalachian Trail Hostel Design, Downtown Signage, Veterans Assistance, Inside-Out Photo project and more with Bartleby students Daniel Dougherty, Frank Duffy, Troy Irmeger and Abrien Kyte.

Next semester Bartleby will have a new class, the enterprise class, in which students will identify areas in the city’s economy to implement a project or start a business to meet a community need.

Next year, Bartleby will be expanding to 100 students. In 2019, there will be 200 students in the program. With the larger numbers, the Bartleby students should be making even greater impact on the community.

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