Pub­lic school board and city are chas­ing the fu­ture to­gether

Stu­dents of­fer vi­sion of Hamil­ton in 2041

The Hamilton Spectator - - COMMENT - MANNY FIGUEIREDO AND CHRIS MURRAY

To­day’s stu­dents are to­mor­row’s lead­ers.

That’s why Hamil­ton-Went­worth Dis­trict School Board (HWDSB) and the City of Hamil­ton in­vited thou­sands of stu­dents to share their vi­sions of Hamil­ton’s best fu­ture.

In the project Chase the Fu­ture: 2041, stu­dents dove into the new City Strate­gic Plan pri­or­i­ties through ex­plo­ration, crit­i­cal think­ing and in­ves­ti­ga­tion. They shaped their vi­sions for 2041, a full 25 years from when we be­gan.

We be­lieve that this kind of learn­ing and part­ner­ship is an ex­am­ple of the syn­er­gies that are re­quired to help make Hamil­ton the best place to raise a child and age suc­cess­fully.

Be­fore the re­search, men­tor­ing and prepa­ra­tion be­gan, Chase the Fu­ture was just an idea at HWDSB and the City of Hamil­ton. Both or­ga­ni­za­tions were do­ing ex­ten­sive con­sul­ta­tion on strate­gic di­rec­tions. We were ask­ing our com­mu­ni­ties: What do we stand for?

At HWDSB, this feed­back shaped five new pri­or­i­ties: Pos­i­tive Cul­ture and Well­be­ing; Stu­dent Learn­ing and Achieve­ment; Ef­fec­tive Com­mu­ni­ca­tion; School Re­newal; and Part­ner­ships.

At the city level, it led to a com­mu­nity vi­sion with six pri­or­i­ties: com­mu­nity en­gage­ment and par­tic­i­pa­tion; eco­nomic pros­per­ity and growth; healthy and safe com­mu­ni­ties; clean and green; built en­vi­ron­ment and in­fra­struc­ture; and cul­ture and di­ver­sity.

With the big ideas in place, how­ever, we felt we could do more. We could ask stu­dents to de­fine their own vi­sions for the fu­ture by ex­plor­ing a big ques­tion in their learn­ing this year: How might we make Hamil­ton an even bet­ter place to live?

Chase the Fu­ture looks dif­fer­ent at each school, thanks to our in­no­va­tive stu­dents and staff, as well as the gen­er­ous sup­port of our city men­tors. Schools cre­ated vi­sions for the Hamil­ton they want in 2041, when our stu­dents are our lead­ers.

At one school, an in­door mu­ral and First Na­tions in­spired gar­den evoke the in­dige­nous his­tory of the school site. At an­other, plans for a dig­i­tal learn­ing space em­ploy piezo­elec­tric sen­sors to trans­form move­ment in the hall­way into en­ergy for light­ing. Oth­ers ex­plore ways to en­cour­age a vil­lage feel in sub­ur­ban neigh­bour­hoods, how to re­duce de­pen­dence on plas­tic bot­tles and so much more.

Dur­ing Ed­u­ca­tion Week (May 1 to 5), we will cel­e­brate with a show­case of Chase the Fu­ture projects. Stu­dents have em­braced cu­rios­ity and cre­ativ­ity — and now it is time to see the pos­si­bil­ity they have cre­ated for Hamil­ton in 2041.

We are grate­ful for the en­ergy our stu­dents and staff have poured into Chase the Fu­ture, and for the strong part­ner­ship be­tween HWDSB and the City of Hamil­ton that made it pos­si­ble. Part­ner­ships are key if we want to en­hance stu­dent learn­ing and con­nect them to op­tions for their fu­ture.

We are also grate­ful that our stu­dents re­minded us about the most im­por­tant les­son of all: If we want to make Hamil­ton’s fu­ture brighter than ever, stu­dents will light the way.

Manny Figueiredo is di­rec­tor of ed­u­ca­tion at Hamil­ton-Went­worth Dis­trict School Board. Chris Murray is city man­ager at the City of Hamil­ton.

Part­ner­ships are key if we want to en­hance stu­dent learn­ing and con­nect them to op­tions for their fu­ture.

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