Empowering Change: New Hampton School’s Community Impact Challenge

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New Hampton School’s commitment to fostering innovation and community engagement was recently exemplified through its Community Impact Challenge. Dr. Kim Duncan, in an inspiring announcement earlier this month, invited students to identify and address meaningful issues within the school community. With the opportunity to implement their winning idea, generously supported by a New Hampton alumnus, students embarked on a journey of creativity, problem-solving, and social impact.
The Challenge:
Identify a meaningful problem within our school community and propose a creative solution that you and your team believe will positively impact the people, places, or programming that make New Hampton matter to all of us.

Exploring the Possibilities

Among the thoughtful entries from seven team presentations, three projects stood out for their creativity, feasibility, and potential impact. Each of these teams received prizes for their submissions, and the first-place team will receive an additional allotment of seed money to fund the launch of their project. Let’s delve into each of these finalists:

First-Place Project: New Hampton Key
Presented by Taylor ’24, Caroline ’25, and Kelsey ’26

The New Hampton Key team recognized a simple problem with extensive impact on the community through available, modern technology. Instead of a metal key or keycard, they recommended a phased approach to replacing these antiquated (and often misplaced) relics with a smartphone-enabled app to open doors to rooms, houses, and various facilities on campus. While investing in and building the infrastructure to make this happen will take time, some of the technology already exists on campus and can be tested in phase one of their program for select areas.
The Judges’ Notes: “New Hampton Key did a great job of explaining the scope of what could be accomplished with the seed money from the challenge.  Their 4 step plan for integration on campus was measured and demonstrated that they had thought about the challenges and costs of the transition to their proposed system”

Second-Place Project: Community Kitchen
Presented by Ava ’24 and Walker ’24

Citing a need for the life skills gained in a kitchen environment as well as the opportunity to share with each other culturally and communally, the Community Kitchen spoke to the Huskies through our stomachs and hearts. This team envisioned a renovated space on campus where housemates or classes could gather to learn and create authentic meals. They sought out stakeholders within the community to evaluate if a space on campus is already available, as well as discuss the practical aspects of running and maintaining such a kitchen.
The Judges’ Notes: “Ava and Walker’s idea of a community kitchen has so much potential.  Food brings people together in so many different ways, and learning how to cook is a lifelong skill that boarding students need to learn.”

Third-Place Project: Husky Hangout Heavens
Presented by Eric ’27, Saiaiw ’24, and Numton ’24

Understanding the importance of light therapy during the winter and low-light months was the challenge presented by this community-oriented team. While light therapy in an indoor setting is a new option at the Health Center for all Huskies, they recognized the importance of optimizing natural light sources when available in a comfortable and communal environment. Embracing a greenhouse-like effect for warmth and the beauty of the winter landscape in New Hampton, modern igloos were recommended to be placed in pods around campus. Highlighting the affordability of materials, the effective science of the mood-boosting qualities of natural light, and the versatility of the spaces for small study groups, classes, and, of course, hanging out, the igloos offered a helpful solution to the cold or low-light months.
The Judges’ Notes: “Winter at New Hampton can be a slog.  The grey skies and cold temperatures make it even more challenging. The judges really loved how Numton, Saiaiw, and Eric thought of a creative and executable way to address it.”
Each of these finalist projects embodies the spirit of the Community Impact Challenge, demonstrating a thoughtful understanding of issues facing the school community from a student perspective and offering innovative solutions to address them. This inaugural launch of the challenge has not only provided a platform for students to showcase their creativity and problem-solving skills but has also sparked meaningful discussions and initiatives aimed at enhancing the school community. Many of the ideas, even outside of the finalists, had far-reaching possibilities that linger on our minds as effective possibilities. As these finalist projects demonstrate, by empowering students to take ownership of their environment and effect positive change, New Hampton School continues to uphold its commitment to excellence, innovation, and social responsibility.

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