Middle School Students Envision Their ‘Person of the Year’ Cover

“This is the coolest project I do,” says 7th Grade English Language Arts teacher Carla Axt-Pilon.

Each year around this time, Carla Axt-Pilon, a 7th Grade English Language Arts teacher at Granger Middle School in Aurora, Ill., encourages her students to think big. Really big.

She asks them to create a Time magazine cover illustration, at least 20 years into the future, that presents why they might be voted “Person of the Year.” Students are provided with the guidance of connecting their imagined achievements to someone real and this year, Trisha Desai, who would like to win the POY honor in 2036 for creating a new, technology-driven program that links service dogs with their owners, found esoteric inspiration. From a piece in the Daily Herald by Marie Wilson:

Trisha based her paper on the accomplishments of someone less widely known, a blind man who helped bring Seeing Eye dogs to the U.S. from Switzerland in 1928. The late Morris Frank inspired Trisha to innovate around the idea of service dogs and how they could better assist their human partners through the use of specialized devices.

“I’m interested in how service dogs are used to communicate,” Trisha said. “In the future, we’ll have more advanced ways of using technology.”

The project that makes her an award winner provides devices to dog and handler alike to help turn certain sounds or barks into signals for emergencies or everyday occurrences. She doesn’t have a dog but would love to get one — all as part of her research for the pioneering system she plans to develop by her early 30s.

The project has been going on long enough now that Axt-Pilon has laminated cover illustrations from students predicting their 2016 “Person of the Year” wins. The article has a number of photos of the covers drawn this go-round by Desai and others. Check them out here.

Pictured: Granger Middle School mascot