Recent Greely High School graduates Adele Brown, left, and Jennifer Medrano worked with fellow senior Elise Eckowiki and sophomore Maggie Wilder to create a climate change curriculum. Contributed / Andrew Fersch

For many high school seniors, “senioritis” starts to creep in right around second semester. College applications are complete, future plans are made and graduation is finally in sight. But for three Greely High School students, senior year was a time to work long and hard on a project they hope will benefit students throughout the state.

Adele Brown, Jennifer Medrano and Elise Eckowiki, along with sophomore Maggie Wilder, spent the last year creating a climate change curriculum through independent study.

“A climate change curriculum was something that was missing not only from our school, but from most others in Maine,” Brown told The Forecaster.

Brown, Medrano, Eckowiki and 147 other Greely seniors graduated June 4 in commencement exercises at the high school.

The project was tricky and took a long time, Brown said. They started from scratch, beginning with a basic syllabus with overarching ideas. From there, they broke the course down into study units.

The introductory unit, Idealistic and Possible Relationships to the Land, explores Indigenous perspectives about human relationships to the land and encourages students to begin developing a personal relationship to their natural environment while also understanding the complexity of the relationship, Brown said.


The second unit then delves into the definition of climate change and is designed to help students understand the impacts of human-caused climate change and to uncover existing and possible future solutions to climate change impacts.

Five more units follow.

“We realized that the only way this project would be adopted was by making it extremely specific,” Brown said.

This meant that the students had to create each slideshow, homework assignment, activity and other materials needed to teach the course. After creating the lesson plans, the students worked with Chelsea Steinauer-Scudder, a Portland writer who focuses on culture, ecology and spirituality, to review their work, find any gaps in the curriculum and break it down into time increments.

The goal, Medrano said, is for the curriculum to be adopted by schools around the state.

“Our hope is definitely for it to be used at our school, and we’ve already had a couple teachers express interest in teaching it,” she said.


Pathways Coordinator Andrew Fersch, who oversaw the independent study project, said it is rare for students to take on a project with such magnitude.

“The hundreds of hours that these dedicated students spent on this is an inspiration as an educator and human being,” Fersch said.

Medrano and Brown both emphasized the valuable skills they learned by working together to build the curriculum, which they hope to take into college.

This fall, Brown will attend Bowdoin College and Medrano will be attending the University of Michigan. Both hope to pursue environmental studies.

“Starting this during my senior year was the best thing I could have done,” Brown said. “I can graduate and leave my school knowing that I left some sort of positive impact on my community.”

Eckowiki was not available at the time of the interview.

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