South Orangetown Central School District

Tappan Zee High School seniors are pitching proposals for after-school enrichment programs as part of a problem-based lesson developed by English teachers Susan Gleeson and Laura Sorrese-Lefkow, Special Education teacher Diane McLoughlin and Library Media Specialist Patty Eyer.

Students were challenged to develop an idea for an enrichment program on a topic of personal interest that they would lead and record an engaging and persuasive ad via podcast to generate demand.

“This project connects to our persuasive language studies based on Aristotle’s Persuasive Communication rhetoric. Those steps include ethos, to establish trust; then logos, to provide facts and reason to back up your idea; and then finally pathos, which evokes an emotional response. It gives a modern twist on a traditional concept,” Lefkow explains.

Erin S. is proposing a program on LGBTQ+ history. “The only history we ever learned about the gay community was when we covered the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Health class,” she notes. “As the gay and transgender community becomes more visible, it’s important to eliminate hate and fear, and create empathy. The fastest way to achieve this is through education.” 

Extending the high school fencing program to South Orangetown Middle School was the focus of Christian M.’s proposal. “I’m on the fencing team and you can’t join until you are in eighth grade. If we offer fencing after school at SOMS, it would encourage the sport to become more popular at TZHS,” he argues. “It’s an activity when you really can’t go outside in the winter and it opens up college options as fencing athletes are scarce.”

Eyer emphasizes the value of persuasion and effective communication skills, particularly for soon-to-be grads. “As society moves away from traditional written forms of communication, it’s important to develop alternative mediums to convey concepts. This lesson aims to develop students’ conversational skills by creating a classic ‘elevator pitch’ to sell their idea in a short amount of time,” she says. “This is crucial for seniors preparing for college interviews.”

Students sitting at desk in front of computer and microphone.