By: Chelsea Davis-Bibb, Ed.D.
It has been a few years since Hector Balazar, Sergio Garcia, and Eliezer Guillen won a contest to design a bus shelter, and recently, many gathered at Eisenhower High School for the ribbon cutting of the beautiful new bus shelter that will forever be a part of the community. The students started this project back in 2018, but due to the pandemic, the ribbon cutting ceremony was placed on hold.
The Aldine Independent School District (AISD) partnered with METRO on this project so that students would have a real-world experience through STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. The vision was brought to Metro by Brad Kaplan, a Digital Learning Specialist who recently retired from the district after 33 years, who pitched the idea to Tom Lambert, CEO of Metro. He stated, “This innovation challenge empowered our students to apply academic content to solve a relevant problem in their community.”
These three students worked on their proposal for months before presenting their proposal to a board of judges on April 23, 2019, at Metro headquarters. Teachers assisted them with their project, but majority of it was student led. There were eight AISD teams who presented their proposal, and they also competed against hundreds of other students, but only one design could win.
Only two of the students were able to attend the ceremony, but they were amazed and excited to not only be back at their alma mater, but to see their work in person firsthand. Balazar stated, “It felt amazing knowing that our bus shelter came to life. It feels really good coming back to the school and seeing the results from our project.”
Guillen mentioned, “This project is meaningful because it’s very big to the community and it’s something that we contributed ourselves and we can see it in person. At first it was an idea and now finally seeing it and seeing all these people here and giving you recognition, it makes you feel proud.”
This project was also important for all students so that they can be motivated and inspired to want to do more projects such as this one. The advice that Balazar has for students is to “communicate and work together.” He mentioned that “Even though you are sometimes competing against bigger schools, if you work together, anything is possible.”
Guillen stressed how everyone has their own path stating, “Compare yourself to who you were yesterday and not to who someone else is today. As long as you discipline your-self and follow what you want to do, you will see the proof. It will play out.”
Dr. LaTonya Goffney, Superintendent of Aldine was very proud of what the students achieved stating, “I truly believe that participating in meaningful projects and having students recognize that what you start here in high school can truly have an impact on generations. The students started this four years ago and are about to graduate from college. That is powerful, and this will have a lasting impact on the community.”
This project is just one example of what a classroom should look like. Projects like these expose students to real life opportunities where they can learn skills that they can carry with them long after they leave the classroom.