The culminating event stimulated the students to be very professional. As the final performance and mural unveiling approached, the students stayed after school to practice their speeches and dances with the help of an artist-in-residence. They performed for an audience of about 300 people with grace and confidence. We learned the importance of an audience outside of school to motivate students to do their best. We learned that our students are just as capable of meeting high expectations as any students.
This was the first year of the project. We plan to continue to do thematic projects and will continue to work with the Seattle Aquarium. As the project grows we are creating more opportunities for establishing connections with our students' communities: working in local parks, creating murals for local community centers, and involving parents in the projects.
Next year, we will stagger the project schedules so that students can complete their work for the culminating event without getting overwhelmed and panicky. While a project of this scale represents an enormous time commitment on the part of the teachers, it has been tremendously gratifying. Each season it gets a little easier to get funding and other kinds of support because of the past success of the project."