Students Gain Global Perspective With Certificate Program


Advisor of Global Studies Mr. Bakale and his globe. (Photo/Dana Morrone)

Dana Morrone

Advisor of Global Studies Mr. Bakale and his globe. (Photo/Dana Morrone)

In this day and age, staying aware of global events is becoming more and more essential to young adults. Luckily, for students interested in global events, recently there has been a program added to the list of available clubs. Global Studies, the formal name of the club, is a certificate program. It is led by social studies teacher Mr. Jeffrey Szymanski and Latin teacher Mr. Gabriel Bakale. In this program, students have the ability to gain global prospective as well as exercise their great knowledge of global events and cultural traditions.

For many years, retired Foreign Language Department head, Mr. George Watson, had brought the idea for a global studies group upon many of the teachers at Walpole High. Finally in 2008, Watson’s ideas began to come to life. The Walpole Public Schools came up with a Strategic Planning Committee in order to improve school programs, how they work, and an overall evaluation of their progress and definition. One of the final objectives of the committee was to set up a program to prepare students to become a member of their global society. Therefore the Global Studies Certificate Program was created to help with this goal. In October of 2011, the program was officially started. Mostly freshmen and some sophomores make up the mass of about 40 students.

The students must take on certain components in order to receive their certificate and ‘graduate’ from the program. In the four years that they reside in the club, they must have good academic coursework, multiple hours of community service and cultural immersion experiences, as well as creating a global research project and portfolio. Also to be part of the program, students must take two units of global literacy and one unit of foreign language, and in addition, another unit from either of the two.

There are several factors that set this club apart from all of the other programs at the high school. First of all, the program is not just an extracurricular program. Because of the large load of work and components, the new club requires a four year commitment from freshman. The students are expected to meet in groups of eight each month on their own to discuss and talk with others about current global events without the guidance of their two advisors, much like a socratic seminar. Mr Bakale said, “it helps the students learn leadership roles because it is so student centered.” Because of the commitment, Mr. Szymanski knows that the program is not for everyone, and said it is “for students who are motivated, curious, and interested in the world.” He expects AP and Honor level students, although there are CP-1 level students in the program who have proved themselves capable of taking on the challenge.

Also to make it intriguing and more independent than other academic programs, students will gain the great knowledge to be able to correctly contribute to their community and, more importantly, their world. “They will develop a greater appreciation for foreign cultures and have a stronger connection to current events” said Mr. Bakale. Mr. Szymanski said, “the students get exposed to ideas and issues that they had never been exposed to so it puts them at an advantage for everyday global complications.”

Commitment and dedication are the main ingredients for a student to thrive in a Global Studies group. Mr. Bakale and Mr. Szymanski both believe that the skills obtained in the program demonstrate an ability in the student to go above and beyond what their classes require, which colleges are especially searching for. It seems probable that the Global Studies program is a prime device to preparing the students for their journey through the real world after high school.