Last week, students in Rebecca Williams’ grade 7 English classes participated in an activity modeled after the popular TV show “Shark Tank.” Students created pitches to convince a panel of “Sharks” – middle school division head Evan Barth, assistant middle school division head Patricia Lai-Burrows, global education director Jennifer Walrod, English teacher Marjorie Hazeltine and middle school librarian Bernie Morrissey – to award money to charitable organizations chosen by the students.
Pitches were created by several students from each grade 7 English class, and each class voted to see who would face the panel in the final round. Williams came up with the idea for the activity both as a persuasive writing exercise and as a means of helping students “realize the privilege that we have.”
Harker parents raised the $700 in prize money, which was distributed among the finalists based on the judges’ evaluation of their pitches. Ritu Belani’s pitch took first place, earning $480 for the Women’s Global Empowerment Fund. Lera Vaisburd’s second-place pitch netted $90 for the American Cancer Society. In third place were Meishin Yen and Mira Goodwin, who donated $70 to the Best Friends Animal Society. Jason Monaghan won $40 for Doctors Without Borders, and Alice Tao and Reshma Kosaraju secured $20 for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
“We really wanted the kids to have to consider their audience,” Williams noted. “I was just truly blown away by their preparedness, poise, confidence and passion.”