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Ethics Bowl changes lives of seniors at Wayne

Khushi Patel, Wayne Memorial Class of 2021.

By Khushi Patel – Wayne-Westland Community Schools offers students opportunities in learning that reach far beyond the classroom according to WWCSD Communications Director Jenny Johnson. “We have staff who ignite passion in their students.” Wayne Memorial senior Khushi Patel shares the essay she wrote to the A2 Ethics organization at the University of Michigan on how important the Ethics Bowls Team at Wayne Memorial and its sponsor, David Kangas, have been to her high school career.

A Tribute to Ethics Bowl
I sat nervously tapping my pencil against the cracked wooden desk as an unknown, tall, man scribbled the question onto the board: “What’s considered a good life?” As a naive thirteen-year-old, I sat wide-eyed and timidly looked at the others for help. Now, as someone who likes reading knotty philosophy during her free time, that moment seems foreign. If there was one activity that has defined my high school experience, it would be the Ethics Bowl, and its sponsor, Mr. David Kangas.
Ethics Bowl is a conversational activity where students are required to “solve” a set of cases using philosophy. It’s a place where you learn how to think critically and speak eloquently. The cases that are talked about are real-world issues that are often reserved for individuals in higher academia or government, but the solutions that high schoolers are able to come up with are on par with what’s being discussed at those higher levels. From felon disenfranchisement to animal welfare and international genocide, nothing is left out. These conversations are essential to high school curriculum as they prepare students for college-level discourse.

Four years ago, I would never raise my hand in class. Now, I’m the first to do so in classroom discussions. Our faculty coach, Mr. David Kangas, has amplified the voice of many talented individuals at Wayne Memorial. Mr. Kangas creates a vibrant community where students are able to have a space without restricting themselves to rubrics, boundaries, and other academic guidelines. He allows for students to think out loud and work collectively to come to a solution, rather than against one another. In September, I hosted a symposium about the Ethics of Educational Equity and started a blog with the help and support of Kangas. He gives students initiative to take learning into their own hands and allows for them to explore who they are. He stresses the importance of self-reflection and self-advocacy, both of which I learned to prioritize. Kangas prepares his students not for a competition, but for a lifetime. I’ve become a better version of myself and for that, I am grateful.
I want to thank the A2 Ethics organization at the University of Michigan for creating such a high-caliber activity for excited students like me; Jeanine DeLay for her enthusiastic and fierce attitude that gets an entire room energized and excited about ethical dilemmas; my coaches throughout the years–Van Tu, Dr. Zoe Johnson King, Adam Waggoner, Dr. Elias Baumgarten, and Neil Sykes–who’ve dedicated so much time and energy into the learning process. Thank you would truly be an understatement for how much love and respect I have for you all. I would also like to thank my teammates throughout the years who’ve supported me and continuously pushed me outside of my comfort zone to enhance my perspective on our ever-changing world.

Lastly, I truly don’t have enough superlatives to describe Mr. Kangas’ brilliant power in changing the lives of many students. His wisdom will forever run deep in my heart. The passionate voice that I have developed did not come naturally–it was the product of Ethics Bowl and Mr. David Kangas was the catalyst.

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