This year, a class called Design Challenge was created for Dayton Junior High and High School. Since its introduction, it has been working to reinvent each student’s individual experiences in school, by giving them the freedom to fulfill their own ambitious projects. As a junior in high school, I’ve gotten to see it come together from the beginning.

The objective of Design Challenge was formatted to let the student lead their own project to help them develop communication skills, event planning skills, organization skills, and much more. All skills valuable to adult life. It was created to closer fit the student’s interests, more than the long-established school curriculum that we’re all probably very familiar with.

One student-lead group that had a great experience in the class, was a team in Design Challenge. It was lead by me. Within this group, we planned a cultural event at the elementary school on November 2nd, 2017, where we taught third and fourth graders about the cultural differences between Halloween and Day of The Dead in South America. We offered them cookies and frosting made for us by the culinary class, and fun crafty activities. 

Our Day of The Dead altar

We knew it was a major success not only for the turn out, but because we heard it from the students as well. One notable comment came from a little girl who exclaimed: “This is the best day of our lives!” If we were in need of any solid assurance that we were doing things right, that did it for us. We have learned a lot in this class and we can all say that we are happy to have organized and completed such a fulfilling project.

For some students, including myself, taking Design Challenge has been revolutionary in our high school experience. Every day, we are excited to continue moving forward in our projects. We see the amazing opportunities available to us in Design Challenge. We see that our ideas and goals are genuinely valued in the school and with that confidence, we have the motivation to pursue them. 

Cookie decorations!

In the future, we are sure to see many more amazing projects come together within Design Challenge such as charity events, fun events, cultural projects, and even projects that connect with other classes in our school through our independent studies.

I am a student at Dayton High school and throughout my experience of attending this school, I’ve seen this amazing growth and renewal of its traditional learning possibilities for students. There is a flourish of bright kids here that come from all different walks of life, who have a magnitude of different interests and abilities. Fortunately, I am not the only one who sees it.


Students and a teacher posing with their masks

Bevin Schrag Administrator

Bevin Schrag is a writer for Innovate Oregon. While working in social media and marketing at OnlineNW, she is currently studying the arts at Chemeketa Community College, to later become a media designer.