Seventh graders at DMS thrive at Project HOPE

Posted on Jan 19 2021


From left, Eun Young Ahn, Aries Wabol, Miumi Takahashi, Monique Mendiola, Alana Hayes, Zachary Camacho, Michael Deleon Guerrero, Reineer Anciado and Athena Wabol representing Dandan Middle School at Project HOPE’s pilot run with 7th graders during fall 2020. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

Thanks to Project HOPE (Health Ocean & People Empowerment) of the Friends of the Marianas Trench, some students at Dandan Middle School are getting a valuable opportunity to learn about traditional culture, ocean science and conservation.

DMS teacher Eun Young Ahn thinks that Project HOPE “is the perfect program for our students to appreciate the beauty of our ocean and the resources it provides so they can understand why protecting it is important. I love the ocean and I love our islands. I needed our students to know more about the ocean and how we can protect it.”

Project HOPE is a no-cost ocean science program created by Friends of the Mariana Trench under a grant from the Administration of Native Americans. Inspired by the desire to improve sixth grader’s ACT aspire test scores, Project HOPE is designed to use experiential learning to help CNMI students understand experimental results, inferences, models, and data.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 complications made student recruitment much more difficult. “With this pandemic, it was particularly challenging to determine if parents will allow their children to have any personal interaction with other people outside of their family,” Ahn recalled.

Then she thought to offer students extra credit for attending. “When Mr. Joe told me there were more than 10 students who pre-registered, I was so happy to hear that and excited for them,” she said, referring to Joe Villacrusis, the project coordinator for Project HOPE.

“After a few sessions, my students have shared what they have done and learned so far such as coral bleaching, how to keep our ocean healthy, picking up trash at the end of each session, and learning how to properly swim. I was so happy to see our students in action the couple of times I visited,” Ahn said.

Project HOPE sessions are held on Austerity Mondays at the Guma Sakman. The fall session ran from October to December 2020. The spring 2021 session is scheduled for mid-late February and wrapping up in mid-late June depending on the Public School System’s calendar. To motivate PSS teachers to encourage their students’ participation, the Friends of the Mariana Trench are offering to help teaches with science classroom supplies.

“I hope other middle schools and their science teachers encourage their students to join this program and find out what Project HOPE is about and how they contribute to learning and increasing their knowledge in science, especially ocean related sciences.”

For more information about Project HOPE visit (PR)

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