What is Community?
Principal: Ali Abdel
About Hope of Detroit Academy
Hope of Detroit Academy (HODA) is a free public charter school. HODA provides a safe, nurturing and respectful learning environment while maintaining high standards for each student to achieve his or her academic, social and extracurricular potential. Hope of Detroit Academy has a strong core academic curriculum, blended with multicultural studies.
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Recycling in the city of Detroit is on the rise and the students at Hope of Detroit Academy are proud to say they are part the effort to make that happen. In partnership with Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision (SDEV), and the guidance of their teacher, Tracey Durandetto, students have started a school-wide recycling program. Recycling at school has be ongoing for about one year, now. Community Partner, Marina of SDEV will bring additional recycling bins that the organization is donating to HODA to help with the increased interest in recycling.
What is community? For the past three years Hope of Detroit Academy (HODA) and the Southeast Michigan Stewardship Coalition (SEMIS) have been working together to answer this question. Together with SEMIS, the students at Hope of Detroit have been participating in community-based projects to understand the importance of becoming stewards of their community. While engaging other projects like community mapping and a brownfields study, the topic of local illegal dumping arose in students’ conversations.
The students’ concern about illegal dumping inspired the HODA Tire Sweep Program through which students clean up a vacant lot near the school, collecting the tires from the lot for donation to Cass Community Social Services (CCSS). Once delivered, the tires become part of the Mudmats Recycling Program which employs homeless men to create a valuable recycled product. Teacher Tracey writes:
If you were to drive around the school’s neighborhood you would see several piles of illegally dumped tires. The students began questioning why this happens and suggested working on a solution. With the help of SEMIS and Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision (SDEV), HODA’s tire sweep event was born.
By working on these place-based projects through our school curriculum and working with local community members, it is our hope that the students at HODA can create a space the community and school can enjoy together and take ownership of. - Teacher, Tracey Durandetto
In their 2009 newsletter, community partner Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision writes of the Tire Sweep Program:
This style of education teaches students about the environment and its issues more extensively and also encourages the students to take on ownership in their community in a positive way.
HODA Water Stewardship Project
During the 2010 Summer Institute, the SEMIS Coalition viewed the film “Blue Gold.” Teacher Tracey Durandetto shared the movie with her middle school Community Service Class. She asked them to reflect on the film by writing down questions they have about the issue of water use.
From that discussion and questioning, the Community Service Class at HODA has decided to broaden their focus on community stewardship, building from the school-wide recycling project they started a few years ago, they are now working addressing water stewardship.
Next up, students will watch “The Story of Bottled Water.” They will then start their research on water. The research will include basic facts, water issues around the world and water quality.
- Testing water quality of bottled water vs tap water
- School-Wide Water Use Study (tracking students & staff water use)
- Tracking the number of water bottles used by students’ families for one week
- Invite other grade levels to participate
- Tracking by collected all the bottles of water used
- Final Project: working with Matrix to create a sculpture and/or puppets out of the bottles collect
With assistance from Sarah, of the Greening of Detroit, and Marina, of Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision, the Teacher Team at HODA has spent some time exploring the possibility of a living fence for the playground area. The city is the owner of the playground lot, and has agreed to allow HOPE to plant there. As the project develops, students and teachers will engage with the surrounding community, city officials, will involve parents and the community.