In a world of falling college acceptance rates and rising stress levels, two Northwood teachers are standing against the tide of half-hearted resume-padding activities and encouraging their students to truly make a difference in the world.
Organized at Northwood by history teachers Bryan Hoang and Vadim Rubin, Project Soapbox is part of the Mikva Challenge, a nationwide movement that aims to teach students to become leaders and push for change in their society. Emphasizing that the project is about applying research and public speaking skills to issues that students feel passionate about, Hoang wanted to start this program to inspire students to enact positive change.
“Kids these days don’t know how to be good citizens,” Hoang said. “When students today want to make a difference, what do they know how to do? They sell boba and cut a check. For years, Mr. Rubin and I have been looking for ways to get kids to learn how to utilize their government and media to affect change, and that’s why we decided to get Project Soapbox off the ground this year.”
Rather than directing Project Soapbox endeavors, Hoang and Rubin agreed that the project will be student driven. Rubin hopes it will help students apply what they learn in the classroom and provide them with new perspectives on their roles in society.
“Mr. Hoang and I have thought for some time that beyond just teaching about historical events and their importance, we should connect those things to something more actionable, more ‘real,’ so that kids can be more than just students and become capable adults and understand that democracy is not a spectatorship, but a participant sport,” Rubin said.
Hoang encourages all interested students to attend meetings even if they may have missed the initial information session.
“Hopefully, if we promote activities like this, we will help break the cycle of kids who give up all their free time and fill their days with meaningless clubs and activities and AP test studying,” Hoang said.
“We hope students come to us with questions, ideas and enthusiasm,” Rubin said.