A Team Fit For A Community



Teamwork! The Opportunity Coalition provides a program that allows students to directly benefit the Round Lake community. Through the work of 4th, 7th, and 10th graders, the coalition has been successful in achieving this goal.

Jose Guzman, Staff Writer

The Round Lake High School Opportunity Coalition is successfully  unifying students of different schools, and helping those students flex their problem-solving muscles.

For those of you that don’t know, the Round Lake High School District Opportunity Coalition is a program where Round Lake sophomores, John T. Magee Middle School seventh graders, and Indian Hill Elementary fourth graders team up in order to tackle problems in the community. Problems ranging from bullying prevention to tornado safety in residential areas are being analyzed by students at the three schools. These meetings take place in RLHS five times a year. Two have already taken place and it is clear that the students and staff members involved in this organization deserve a lot of praise.

First of all, the coalition allows students who usually don’t have much involvement with the school or the community an experience that dives directly into a teamwork-driven environment. “The Opportunity Coalition was a district project formed in order to have students who weren’t as involved in school but who were still very good students to get involved in something that relates to school and the community,” said RLHS social studies teacher and Opportunity Coalition district-level team leader Mr. Matthew Howe. “This gives them the opportunity to show the different ideas and the different things they can do.” For students who are busy after school with either family or work, something like the coalition is a godsend because they are still able to get involved and make a difference, but without the time commitments of many other extracurricular activities. This opportunity also serves as an excellent stepping stone for these students’ entry into other activities because it allows a “taste” of extracurricular activities without impeding on their home or work life. For example, I wasn’t participating in anything my freshman year, which led me to be chosen for the coalition. During one of the meets, a participating student recommended that I join the Scholastic Bowl, which I accepted because I enjoyed the extracurricular experience I got from the Opportunity Coalition.

In addition, the program has helped bring attention to problems that our community faces. “Hopefully we’re gonna have community members to come in for each of [the problems the coalition wants to examine],” said Howe. “People that are professionals in the community are going to come in and help out with presentations.” Now students are given the ability to research community-wide issues in a setting unlike any other because they receive the opportunity to directly interact with professionals, as well as other students.  Tenth, seventh, and fourth graders are tackling issues like bullying and fire safety. The students work together creating PowerPoint presentations that outline the importance of addressing these problems within our community. They also come up with ideas to solve these issues efficiently. It’s a perfect opportunity that allows  people of different backgrounds and ages to get together, discuss problems in the school and community, and make a difference. In my team’s case, we focused on fire safety for both homes and schools. We ended up researching topics ranging from emergency texting to safety protocols, which are ideas that are actually in the realm of possibility. According to the “New York Times,” when students’ volunteer work is directed to an actual community and its issues, students are more likely to vote and volunteer in the future.

In the same token, the coalition has helped unify students from all over the district by making them work together. “As students get to know each other, the teamwork becomes better,” said Howe. “As small conflict occurs inside the groups, teamwork becomes better.” Teamwork is a developing process; however, the opportunity coalition helps improve it drastically. Through the new experiences from working with different grade levels, participating students can now learn how to compromise and apply ideas in a functional setting correctly. Despite obvious locational differences, the students of the three schools are now capable of working together as if they were classmates.

All in all, the RLHS’s  District Opportunity Coalition has been successful in achieving its goal of getting students to interact with the community. “I think it has gone really well,” said Howe. “The students have done a great job in going out and finding topics that they want to fix.”