Striving Toward Academic Recognition and Respect
Every year students from the Martin Luther King School in Boston participate in a mentoring program through MassHousing, known as STARR (Striving Toward Academic Recognition and Respect). MassHousing staff mentor third through fifth graders at MLK Elementary School, serving as volunteers in classrooms, tutors, and chaperones for cultural and educational field trips. At the end of the year, fifth grade students take a field trip to the New Academy Estates Housing Development to participate in a learning program with architects from the BSA Foundation.
On May 9th, thirty-five students came to New Academy Estate and met with Aisha Densmore-Bey, a local designer. Aisha spoke about her journey to becoming an architect and what it means to her. After that inspiration, all of the students participated in making a "Box City" around the theme of building strong and happy communities and neighborhoods.
Students, with help from the architects and their mentors, designed and built their own city following the principles outlined by Aisha and BSA Foundation staff. Buildings designed by the students included a community center, a college with a daycare center attached, a fast-food restaurant, a hospital, and a grocery store. After constructing each building, students discussed which types of structures had complimentary uses and made sense to be grouped together, laid out a neighborhood plan, and shared their work with each other. At the end of the session, the mentors from MassHousing took the projects back to their offices to share the students' work with their colleagues.