On October 3-5, 2019 in Anaheim, California, Neal Middle School sent a team of 5 students to compete and present at the SchoolsNEXT Competition hosted by the Association for Learning Environments (A4LE). Lead by advisors Joanna Ali (NC State iScholar Graduate student) and Kia Allah (Neal Middle School Spanish Teacher), this year’s team members were: Ariel Green (8th grade), Michaela Slayton (8th grade), Yasmin Sanchez-Ramirez (8th grade), Jamil Ali (7th Grade) & Michael Drew (7th grade). The students were tasked with designing and creating a "School of the Future" which would provide sustainable and resilient learning spaces that encourage innovation, critical thinking and collaboration for students. These "Schools of the Future" would also need to be designed to directly meet the needs of the community in which they would reside. Neal's team created a school that honored students’ cultures and fostered a sense of belonging in all students. They drew inspiration from ethnic and indigenous patterns to design the architecture of their proposed building that doubled as a cultural center for the community. The group also drew inspiration from the movie Black Panther and incorporated elements from the Afro-futuristic city of Wakanda into their design. Their school design propelled them through the local, regional, and national levels of the competition since they began working on it a little over a year ago.
The faculty and staff are EXTREMELY proud to announce that Neal’s team walked away with the first place ranking overall in the competition and a standing ovation! The team presented their winning school design at the Association for Learning Environments’ (A4LE) National Conference in front of school architects from across the globe. According to the judges, "these young designers have broadened the potential of a school by connecting excellence in design with excellence in education. The Neal Middle School students displayed remarkable enthusiasm, rigorous research and exceptional teamwork, creating solutions that not only meet the needs of students, but address the economy and society of the future, enabling them to master the skills they need to take on the challenges of a world defined by change." Please join us in celebrating, recognizing, and applauding these future LEADers from Neal.
If you would like to view the students' award winning presentation and hear them reflect on this experience in their own words, you can click on the links below. Photos of their California adventure can also be found in the attachments.