Confidence, purpose, vision, and innovation are earmarks of a CDS graduate. The building blocks for these key qualities begin as early as Pre-K with a transformational leadership framework that grows alongside CDS students. Each grade tackles a progressively more challenging project meant to strengthen students’ sense of identity, community, leadership, and action and agency. From their first public speaking engagements to their first community service opportunities, this framework is just one of the many ways CDS builds up students’ leadership abilities and social-emotional development.
PK: Monarch Migration
After learning about the life cycle and migration patterns of monarch butterflies, Pre-K students participate in a mock migration across campus. These little butterflies gather “nectar” as they migrate and sing about their journey. Parents, students, and teachers gather to witness this first opportunity for Pre-K students to demonstrate what they’ve been learning, building their confidence, public speaking, and performance skills.
Kindergarten: Annual Food Drive for Manna Bank
CDS Kindergarteners integrate acts of public service into their math lessons. After collecting donation boxes from each grade, Kindergarteners count all donations to determine how many hundreds of food items have been collected. Afterward, Kindergarten parents transport the donations to Manna Food Bank. Students learn to count large numbers, how to support and promote a cause, and how to connect with the needs of their community
“The greatest take-away from this project is perhaps students’ heightened awareness that there are people in our town who do not have enough food to feed themselves and their families, and that there is an organization that many people can donate to, to help feed fellow citizens.” – ANN JENNINGS Kindergarten Teacher
Grade 1: Trash & Litter Collection
Grade 1 leaders collect trash and litter from classrooms, keeping their campus clean and learning that all students have a collective responsibility to their school community and their fellow students.
Grade 2: City Simulation Project
Grade 2 entrepreneurs connect theories about how cities and local businesses are run by creating a functional city of their own. Students set up banks, yoga studios, movie theaters, and more for a “tourist season” where parents and first grade students can visit their city and patronize their businesses.
“The deep, authentic learning that came from the Community Simulation unit was impressive! This enriching experience provided students with real-world opportunities to apply both the skills associated with running a business or working a salary job as well as the skills learned in math about counting money.” – MAUREEN BEYT, Grade 2 Teacher
Grade 3: Horizons Garden Caretakers
During the school year, Grade 3 students tend and care for the Horizons garden, picking produce and helping the garden thrive through the colder seasons. Through their work, they hope to learn more about composting, using their lunch scraps to help keep the garden fed.
“3rd Grade is proud to be gardeners in the CDS Horizons Garden! It might be a small patch of green in our courtyard, but it has been a beautiful example of the life cycle of plants from seed to fruit.” – KIM SMITH Grade 3 Teacher
Grade 4: Recycling Program
The CDS recycling program is run by the Grade 4 students, who start this endeavor with a field trip to the Buncombe County Landfill to learn where our trash goes. From there, they study global data about trash production and recycling rates and learn about other countries’ waste management systems. Only then do the students decide how to take action on their own campus.
“This opportunity gives our students a chance to practice authentic leadership skills and work toward being stewards of our community.” – CARRIE FOOTE, Grade 4 Teacher
Grade 5: Safety Patrol Program
Each year, Grade 5 students serve on the Student Safety Team, helping teachers and adults in the morning car-rider lines. This includes opening doors, greeting families, and, in some cases, walking our younger Wildcats to their classrooms. As students get older, their leadership opportunities become more robust. Allowing our Grade 5 students to lead and take care of our younger Wildcats helps them understand what responsible leadership within their immediate communities looks like.
“The Safety Patrol Team is jumping in and helping out without being prompted. Carline feels safer, smoother, and easier when they are around helping out.” – IAN RIDDELL, PK-8 STEM Facilitator
Grade 6: Personal History Project
Grade 6 students focus on a comprehensive project that explores their personal histories and identities. The project consists of a vast collection of writing and artifacts that reflect the students’ personal identity and cultural heritage. This collection often includes written memoirs, scrapbooks, parent interviews, and collections of poems.
“Sixth graders get to reflect on their family’s history, their personal experiences, their growing sense of self to make decisions about how they want to show up in the world.” – JAN BRABHAM, Grade 6 Teacher
Grade 7: Personal Leadership Profile
The 7th grade Student Leadership Profile is an interdisciplinary English and Social Studies project in which students learn about moral and ethical dimensions of leadership, different cultural and personal leadership styles, as well as identify and capitalize on opportunities for being a leader in the community. Students create a profile that includes results from their strengths-finder assessment, a resume, and a written biography of a historical leader they have researched.
Grade 8: Impact Asheville
The PK-8 Leadership timeline culminates in the Grade 8 Impact Asheville project, which encourages students to find a systemic problem in the Asheville community and devise a plan to effect change. The students learn about Asheville’s biggest challenges and take field trips to witness those challenges firsthand. Groups present their final findings to fellow students, teachers, and parents in a mock museum exhibit. Impact Asheville helps foster action and agency in our Grade 8 students, to move from classroom theory toward real-world change.
“This project is a chance to finally see what they are capable of without us standing in front of them. And that’s always exciting because it’s them taking the lead. It shows us what they’re really capable of.” – JEREMY BRAKETA, Middle School Teacher