PSP Seniors Conclude Their Full-Year Social Impact Projects, Reflect Upon Their Experiences

Vishesh Ranganathan, News Writer

From writing grants for nonprofits to integrating diverse cultures and identities into the school curriculum, the Pinewood Scholars Program (PSP) Class of 2023 is coming to a close. Literature and history teacher Michelle Gannon says she can attest to the students’ success in leaving a positive impact on their communities.

“They have gone well beyond what I expected,” Gannon said. “They fully created projects which I think will have a long lasting impact.”

Gannon explained how much fun she had teaching this class in particular, because everyone was so engaged in their projects that it felt like they were teaching themselves. This sense of enjoyment for the class is shared among the students. PSP seniors Niki Taradash and Oscar Barnes, who all loved the interactive components of the class and the fact that they got to spend so much time with one another.

Taradash shared her memories from the class, giving insight into how they bonded together.

“My favorite memory has to be over the summer . . . [when] we did a cook off and Peyton and I were partners,” Taradash said. “We attempted making guacamole and vegetarian tacos without a recipe, and all I have to say is that it was a fun experience.” 

Senior Oscar Barnes shared a similar sentiment towards bonding with the rest of the class.

“In particular, I really enjoyed the summer sleepover where I was able to bond with my classmates a lot more than in my previous year,” Barnes said.

Each project drew inspiration from various sources, such as culture in Taradash’s project, “Mirrors: Reflecting on Identity”, which brought together Asian Americans of all ages to speak about their experiences in hopes of creating a space where people from this community feel closer.

Gannon says a big part of the class was identifying “hidden needs” or problems in society that are not clearly visible at first glance. This can act as an inspiration, such as in the case of Myles Fox’s project, “Project Rejoice”, in which he strived to implement a larger sense of diversity and culture in the Pinewood curriculum.

“I really wanted to take on the challenge of taking charge of Pinewood’s [Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion] and create my own curriculum that focuses on our own histories and identity,” Fox said. 

He has implemented this curriculum in the junior PSP class by sharing his teachings, and hopes to bring together a more diverse and knowledgeable Pinewood.

The PSP curriculum engages each student by expanding upon or creating unique interests, which drive their project. This is evident in Barnes’s project; Barnes developed an interest for grant writing, and spent his senior year expanding upon it. He created a social impact initiative in which he writes grants for nonprofits, which has proved extremely successful. His success is clearly visible, as he has more clients than he can attend to.

All the seniors, even the ones not mentioned, have succeeded tremendously during their time as a member of the PSP program. They have done everything from tackling societal issues that affect our everyday life, to making Pinewood a more inclusive place. The spotlight now shifts to the upcoming senior PSP class to see if they can match the success of the entrepreneurs of the Class of 2023.