The transformation of the classrooms, the schoolyard, and the school space of the Senior High School of Intercultural Education of Eastern Thessaloniki were one of the main challenges that the students decided to work on. They have thus endeavored to transform their school into a place of friendship, communication, and understanding as well as a beautiful, socially and functionally innovative place that would unite the students, who come from different countries and cultures and speak different languages. In this framework, the title of our project was ‘’Making our classroom and schoolyard more beautiful and socially innovative’’.
During the school year 2019-2020, B and C class students revealed their talents by overcoming every language barrier. They painted, made posters, played games in the classrooms, and spread the message of change of meaning given to school space. The message included the idea of the transformation of the classroom into a place of mutual and intercultural understanding. Additionally, two visits of social and cultural innovators in the form of co-creation labs took place. Ms Efthymia Papadopoulou, who specializes in producing social awareness events and festivals, visited our school together with Ms Ioanna Garefi (STIMMULI) on the 16th of December 2019, and discussed with the students, the teachers, and the headmaster and suggested ways of making our school a colourful, inspiring and lively place for the whole school community. Teachers and students continued working on the project until the visit of the second social innovator, Mr Alexandros Theodoridis, co-founder of the NGO ‘’Boroume’’. That co-creation lab aimed at showing the students how to make their plans for the school come into life as well as ways to meet donators that could offer their products to the school. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic stopped all the coordinated efforts. However, after school re-opening in May 2020 and under students’ and teachers’ contact with two companies, we were offered paints and painting tools.
During the school year 2020-2021, the project started being carried out again. In September and October, students were exchanging ideas, and on 30th of November 2020 an online co-creation lab was organized utilizing interactive games to show the students how to discover their skills and believe in them. Two online guests, Mr Theodoridis, and Mr Xatzinikolaou, representative of the Environmental Group of the University of Macedonia, offered their experience and showed the students ways of achieving their goals in relation to the transformation of school space.
Moreover, January and February 2021 proved to be months of another social and cultural innovator’s return. Mr Theodoridis, Ms Papadopoulou participated in a kind of co-creation lab on the 25th of January, listened to the students’ and teachers’ needs, and came back in February by offering flowerpots and gardening tools that could be used in the schoolyard and in the garden renovation. What is more, the meeting that took place on the 22nd of February was characterized as the ‘’letter-writing lesson’’. Thus, letter-writing promises became reality. The students wrote a letter to the mayor and the members of the Municipal Council of Thessaloniki in order to state the permanent problems of the school building and the schoolyard, a letter to the Municipal Children’s Library to ask for books for the school library and a letter to Mr Hatzinikolaou to ask for furniture for the schoolyard and to mediate to the person responsible for the municipal seedbed for plants.
April 2021 was the month of surprise and rebirth. Before school reopening on the 12th of April some of the students’ wishes came true. The municipality officials appointed technicians that examined the needs and the external and internal problems of the building and hired an art team to paint new graffiti on the external wall of the school. Moreover, the Municipal Children’s Library offered us a lot of books that can broaden the students’ horizons. Now, we are all looking forward to having the so-called ‘’wish tree’’, a paper tree upon which wishes are written on post-it notes. At the meeting that took place on the 19th of April we all agreed that a lot of steps have been made towards the transformation of the school space although there is a lot more to be done from the new academic year onwards in order for the place to be renovated and acquire a distinctive social and innovative character.