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NHS Students Busy On A Range Of Elective Projects

Newtown High School students have been busy working on a range of projects in many elective courses recently.

With spring approaching, students taking greenery courses have been planting seedlings, preparing to distribute a variety of plants in the coming months.

“Right now is the busy season,” said Business Education and Applied Technology Department Chair Erik Holst-Grubbe. “So right now they are hanging [plants] like mad.”

During the spring, Mr Holst-Grubbe said people can contact the school for information about purchasing plants from the greenery program.

The greenhouse management program, he said, is new to the school, and so are light meters and soil testers that allow the students to decide where certain plants are arranged within the greenery.

Culinary students have also be busy, according to Mr Holst-Grubbe, preparing for final exams in May. The students have also been preparing for a showcase of their talents at the end of March that will additionally highlight the school’s collaboration with the Feeding the Need program.

NHS teacher Kristin Violette said students in her Yearbook classes have been working on meeting deadlines. Students taking yearbook courses work on a variety of projects throughout the year, according to Ms Violette. Students in the lower levels of the course create their own “Newtown” yearbooks that highlight the local community. Students in the upper level of the course develop and complete the school’s yearbook, with multiple deadlines throughout the year. The final form of the NHS 2014 yearbook will be submitted by the end of this month, and students will go on to create a spring supplement.

Students in Ms Violette’s Connecticut Technology Innovation Academy (CTIA) have been working to create mobile applications that center around a responsive design that improves the life of the user, according to Ms Violette. The application, she explained, addresses the seemingly growing apathy of youth and politics by encouraging youth to be interested and active in local, state, and national politics. The CTIA students are also preparing for an expo in May that requires students to bring a product “from concept to market.”

“So it truly is a business course,” Ms Violette said, when describing the varying things students in the CTIA course learn.

Mr Holst-Grubbe teaches both architecture and engineering courses.

His architecture courses, he said, focus on residential aspects, like floor plans, house plans, and building codes. Students create scale models using both a computer program and hands-on skills.

Engineering students, Mr Holst-Grubbe said, are now using a 3-D printer, donated to the school by Martha and Glen Poulter, to print out their designs. Some students have created their own skyscrapers, printing out scaled down versions the size of a pen, Mr Holst-Grubbe said, who added that he has redesigned the course around the new 3-D printer.

In computer repair courses, Mr Holst-Grubbe said students have been repairing hardware, finishing networking projects, and exploring different options to set up a network of computers.

According to NHS teacher Melissa Cacioppo, students in the desktop publishing courses have been working with Photoshop to create a digital portfolio of their skills.

Personal financial literacy students have been working on a “checking account simulation,” learning about endorsing checks and recording a check registry. The students have also been working to create a “financial collage” of their lives, showing where they are and where they plan to be.

Personal and business law students will be analyzing lease agreements, for houses and vehicles, this spring.

Film production students have their eyes set on May.

“They are entering the Connecticut Student Film Festival,” said Mr Holst-Grubbe, which is set for May and will be held in Waterbury. According to Mr Holst-Grubbe, the film festival requires students to create a film based on one of three themes.

There is “a lot of new equipment” at the school for photography students this year, Mr Holst-Grubbe said, including a new green screen and new equipment to allow the students to display their photographs, donated by the school’s PTSA.

Graphic arts students produce work in the spring, Mr Holst-Grubbe said, as opposed to the digital work completed by students in the fall. Silk screening projects are currently under way, according to Mr Holst-Grubbe, and students complete printing jobs for outside of the school projects for people who contact the school.

Students in the child development program, nurtury, have to “design a lesson and present the lesson to the little kids,” in the spring, Mr Holst-Grubbe said.

Automotive classes have been busy working on a “gamut” of auto repair projects with NHS teacher Steve George, according to Mr Holst-Grubbe. People can also contact the school for information on how to have their cars repaired by students in the course. Mr Holst-Grubbe said the students are prepared for work in the automotive industry.

NHS teacher Jolene Swann said students in her business management class have completed a unit on career planning and development “that allows them to take a career interest survey, complete a resume, find a job opening in their interest area, write a cover letter, complete a mock interview, and send a thank you letter.”

Ms Swann also offers marketing as an independent study for students who have completed the first two levels of the marketing courses offered at the school.

“They are responsible for selecting and ordering new merchandise, maintaining inventory, and designing and applying promotional campaigns,” Ms Swann said about the marketing independent study option.

Students taking ceramics courses at the high school have been working to create pots, and art students in Carol Skolas’s class have been working to create sculptures using limited material.

According to NHS music teacher Christopher Lee, students in his Music Technology 2 class have been using computer software to create music. One student, Judge Russell, created a project as an example of infectious rhythm and novel melody, according to Mr Lee. Listen to Judge's project here.

This time of year is also busy for students who complete projects in clubs and student groups at the school.

February 26 “was a big day,” according to NHS business teacher Vivian Sheen, who explained that 27 students in the DECA program attended a career development conference in Plantsville, where they were presented with industry problems and had to solve those problems in a certain timeframe. NHS students John Carlson and Liam McNichals took second place in the business law and ethics problem at the event, according to Ms Sheen.

“I’m very proud,” she said.

While Ms Sheen said DECA is a club at the school, she also said it is incorporated into classes at NHS. The club also offers students opportunities to earn scholarships.

“This is the fourth year going [to the conference], and every year we have had some kids place,” Ms Sheen said.

Students in the high school upcoming musical production of Peter Pan, according to NHS Fine Arts Department Chair and the district’s Director of Music Michelle Hiscavich, have also been busy working after school to make sure the project is done on time for its March 20 to 23 showings.

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