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Student Projects

Faces of South County

Authors: Laszlo Folks, Marisol Franco-Flores, Dalya Almansour

Grade: 10th

Subjects: Chemistry, Humanities, Spanish

Students working in front of Imperial Beach Artwork
Mural panels in classroom
Looking at map on floor
Group photo
People walking on pier
Students in front of Imperial Beach Artwork
Exterior wall of antique building in National City
Peacock painting on wall of art room
Wall of artwork
Tilted book shelves
Mural covering doorway

In this semester-long project, students dissected, analyzed, predicted and suggested specific ways to improve the lives and livelihood of six South County communities, based on their ethnography and current needs. Each group studied the complex intersection of culture, politics, economics and technology to create real world change for those around us. Students assumed a variety of roles (from anthropologist to politician) and generated projects that utilized professional consultants along with their own ethnographic research. The wide-range of final products included building a local park for families in Logan Heights, educating elementary students about the importance of nutrition and exercise in National City, and implementing enrichment and wellness programs at a retirement home in Bonita.

How do individuals’ wants vs. needs affect the direction of a community? What actions are necessary for a community to continue to thrive in the long term?

This was my first truly interdisciplinary project and I was struck by how much our students grew in areas that were not specific to any of our disciplines (Spanish, Chemistry or Humanities), but nonetheless integral pieces of their learning repertoire. I saw how in that first week of school, students rose to the occasion and delved into our communities of focus, learning to empathize with perspectives other than their own. As they grappled with the intricacies of collaborative problem-solving, they developed both their abilities to voice their opinions and compromise. I sometimes had to resist the urge to jump into a difficult group conversation, giving students the space to work through their disagreements and own their decisions. I am proud of the work that our students were able to accomplish in each community, and I am equally proud of the growth that they demonstrated as lifelong learners and continuing changemakers.

Marisol Franco, 10th grade Spanish

“We achieved a lot in areas that went beyond our project proposal. We came up with our holiday celebration during one of our Farmer’s Market sessions, and worked on it in an attempt to bring people to the market. Our goal evolved to create an area where we could combine a sense of community and a dedication to leading healthier lifestyles, which we hope we inspired in people.”

Camie Del Rosario, 10th grade


“When we first visited Imperial Beach we were overwhelmed by the beautiful surroundings of the community. While there, we interviewed several locals in order to better understand the community. We noticed right away that there was half of IB that welcomed new changes and another half of the community that wanted things to stay the same. As a cohort we needed to figure out something that addressed the needs of both parts of the community.”

Mariano Rubio, 10th grade