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Ahead of the final presentations on January 4 and 5, students in this semester’s Junior/Senior Project course shared information on the projects they completed.
The course is designed to offer students the chance to build on existing strengths and to provide the opportunity to explore a subject or career they are passionate about outside of the classroom, while developing a career-oriented relationship with a community professional as a mentor in the student’s area of chosen interest.
NHS Career Center school to career counselor Peg Ragaini, and educators Elizabeth Hanna and Susan McConnell oversee the course. When the students present their projects each semester, a panel of judges are present to review the efforts.
Students gathered in the evening on Monday, December 19, to finalize their presentations and shared what their projects were.
NHS senior Emily Toby said she researched goats, cheese, and farming in general for her project.
“I’m really involved in the culinary program and I am really interested in science, so it was a good intermingling of science and culinary,” said Emily, who said she completed her research at Stone Silo Farm in Woodbury.
Emily said she did chores on the farm, learned about the cheesemaking process, and studied the microbiology of cheesemaking. Emily’s presentation, she said, focused on the history of cheesemaking and the microbiology behind the process of cheesemaking.
“I think the coolest thing for me, since I am so interested in science,” said Emily, “was seeing it firsthand from start to finish; seeing [the cheese] go from milk to a final product of cheese. It was so cool.”
Jackson Buchler, a junior at NHS, said his project created a cooking video, which is online on YouTube.
“The basic premise of it was to kind of show how the Food Network sugarcoats the food industry itself. I talked to a couple chefs in Newtown, and what I got from them was that they do this because they are passionate and they do not do it for the money,” said Jackson, who works at Dere Street Restaurant.
For the video, Jackson also spoke with his grandfather, Richard Peterson.
“We talked about his favorite recipe… and he can’t really cook any other recipe except this one thing,” said Jackson, who spent 15 minutes of his video demonstrating how to prepare his grandfather’s recipe for risotto Milanese.
For NHS junior Zach Demeglio the Junior/Senior Project course worked well with the project he is completing for his Eagle Scout project. For the Junior/Senior Project, Zach said he worked to create a trail for public use at 300 Berkshire Road, the Halfway River Access Trail, with Newtown Deputy Director of Planning & Land Use Rob Sibley. Zach is also building a kiosk for the trail for his Eagle Scout project, and he expects the kiosk will be in place in the spring.
When asked what he learned most from his project, Zach replied, “How to manage my money properly.”
NHS senior Liz Chamiec-Case designed a curriculum for a health class unit on brain health.
Last school year, Liz made a website for general use on brain health after mentoring with Jeremy Richman who founded The Avielle Foundation with Jennifer Hensel. This semester Liz took her project a step further, by again mentoring with Dr Richman to learn more about brain health education.
Liz said “the importance of education and making people aware” of brain health is important.
Daphne Mack, a senior, said she created an animation for her project.
“It’s a story of this girl… And she is going about her normal day. But then she finds this rat in her closet, and that is what the animation is about,” said Daphne, who plans to study animation in college.
Her Junior/Senior Project, Daphne said, gave her a “head start” on her planned college major. The animation is available to watch on YouTube.
“This was a really gratifying experience,” said Daphne about the course and having a final product.
NHS senior Clare McKinley said she wrote scripts for short movies for her project.
“It’s what I want to do with my life,” said Clare, sharing her hopes to enter the movie writing business.
Clare said she was inspired by the moviemaking process and that an entire production can happen because of a script.
For NHS senior Kelsey O’Connor, the Junior/Senior Project offered her a chance to write a novella. Kelsey said she did not take an English class this semester, and she missed it.
“I wanted to write something to make up for that,” said Kelsey. “I wrote two short stories about these characters based on archetypes, and I wrote a story watching them develop from a certain plot point.”
Through the Junior/Senior Project course Kelsey said she learned, “I can really do whatever I set my mind to and that it is really enjoyable when you write something for the enjoyment of someone else rather than yourself.”
NHS senior Emma Johnson said she studied human trafficking in Connecticut for her Junior/Senior project. Emma said she first learned about the issue from a speaker at her church, Walnut Hill Community Church in Bethel, and when it came time to pick a topic to research, she remembered the presentation.
For her project, Emma joined all of her research on the topic and legislation in Connecticut together. She also shared presentations about her research at Walnut Hill Community Church.
Kate Loungo, a senior at NHS, said by e-mail on December 22, that she created an online museum, The Rooster’s Canvas, which was not live as of Tuesday, January 3, for her project.
“This website features the creative work of the students [in kindergarten through twelfth grade] in Newtown,” said Kate. “The website is designed in a museum format with exhibits displaying creative writing and artwork by students. Teachers can utilize the website to display their students’ works to increase pride and boost confidence within the classroom. The main purpose of the Rooster’s Canvas is to encourage creative expression and innovative thinking as well as to unite the Newtown community.”
With her project, Kate said she wanted to find a way to share passion of creativity with the community.
“I feel that keeping my own creativity alive has benefited me in many ways and I wanted to promote and celebrate creative works by all students,” Kate said. “The Rooster’s Canvas encourages creativity both in and outside of the classroom.”