“There is a large Catholic component,” said Linna McDonald, the seventh- and eighth-grade social studies teacher, “but on the other hand they need to be able to walk in the other person’s shoes. I want them to think not as children but as adults with regard to social justice issues.”
McDonald pointed out that most of the students have grown up in Maspeth, a warm and nurturing community, but in just a matter of months, the students will be entering high school, crossing paths with types of people they’ve never encountered before.
"Through this type of research, they can become apologists for their ethical beliefs, so they can stand up and articulate what they believe in," said McDonald.
Thomas Sanchez’s topic was on carbon footprints left by humans. His research inspired him to reduce his own carbon footprint by recycling, changing light bulbs to the more energy-efficient kind, and carpooling.
“It helped me use perspective and see how people use details to back up their ideas,” said Sanchez.
Rebekah Lopatto selected her topic on gay rights and marriage because it’s something she feels strongly about. Despite being pro-gay rights, she was careful not to impose her beliefs on others, presenting them with the Catholic view as well as the secular view. She was surprised to learn through her research that some Christian faiths are very supportive of gay rights.
“It’s important for people to know both sides of the spectrum,” said Lopatto, “because one day we’re going to be voting on these issues.”