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DRUGS & VIOLENCE: 5th-8th, Salvucci, Thurgood Marshall Elementary School
Grades: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 • Curriculum: Social Studies, Speaking & Listening, The Arts and Writing
When Terri Salvucci’s mentally gifted class had trouble deciding between “drugs” and “violence” as the focus for their service-learning project, she challenged them to look for the connection between the two.
To learn more about the incidence of drug addiction in their neighborhood, the students met with the community liaison for a substance abuse treatment program that serves the uninsured and underinsured population in Philadelphia. The students read their visitor’s bio prior to the visit and generated a number of questions for him in advance of his presentation. He shared with them his personal story of recovery and also gave them information about the extent of drug addiction in the city. His visit sparked their interest in researching the problem further.
He, in turn, took an active interest in the class. Based on their stories of drug abuse among the student population, he arranged for representatives from the Police Department’s “Heads Up” program to present at a school-wide assembly. The program, geared for middle and high school-aged students, presents the dangers and realities of drug violence. As a consequence of the presentation, a number of students in the school identified their need for help.
Throughout the project Ms. Salvucci’s students brought in news articles related to their issue and discussed what they learned. In reaction to their desire to organize an anti-violence rally, she said, “I wasn’t sure we could do it, but I didn’t want to discourage them.” Subsequently, the class partnered with eight other classes who had also chosen some aspect of violence as the focus for their service-learning projects. Together they planned and hosted a rally, march and culminating presentation related to their research on the causes and effects of violence.
Because her students expressed strong interest in art and music, they created two artistic expressions of their concern – a peace quilt of fabric squares contributed from each classroom in the school, and a music CD of raps and poems they had written and recorded.