Interview with Stephanie, Class of 2021

Stephanie in her skating costume.

Ninth-grader Stephanie came to Sizer in seventh grade, from a local middle school. Her old school wasn’t working for her; she felt her individual academic needs were not being addressed. She came to Sizer because she had friends here, and “I also found out another friend was coming here, so I told my mom about it. She wasn’t thrilled with the idea, but kept an open mind, and insisted that we investigate before making a decision, so we came to an info session.” After that, Mom felt like Sizer was a place Stephanie could really succeed; and after Steph did a shadow day, she agreed.

How does Stephanie feel about her expectations versus the reality of education at Sizer? “It’s actually better than I thought, which surprised me because after the info sessions I had very high expectations. I was most surprised that teachers treated students with more respect than I was used to. For instance, I have difficulty working in brightly lit rooms. I talked to my teachers, and we were able to problem-solve together to come up with solutions that work for me and for the students who didn’t like dimly-lit rooms.” She says that at her last school, if a student got in trouble, instead of being spoken with about the situation and coached on expectations, the student was disciplined (often loudly) without any investigation. She felt injustices were taking place and it made her feel angry, frustrated, and powerless. “This school feels safe to me; I can take academic risks such as answering questions in class that I’m not 100% sure of, and no one will make fun of me. I can ask for help, because I trust the teachers to not make me feel inadequate for wanting or needing help.”

Stephanie is an excellent student, but we wanted to talk to her because we found out that outside of school, she is a competitive figure skater. She’s been doing it for 7 years (she was 7 when she started), and has membership in three different clubs, although when she competes, it is with the Colonial Figure Skating Club. She first started taking lessons at the Wallace Civic Center so that she could skate with her family at her uncle’s pond. The original idea was to just learn enough to get her started with skating at the pond, but Stephanie took to it immediately, and the coaches at the rink encouraged Stephanie to continue lessons.

She started moving up through the levels established by the US Figure Skating Association, and performed in yearly shows. When she was nine, she joined a synchronized skating team for Wallace, and competed with them. She started ice dancing when she was ten at Colonial, and Stephanie joined the team there and started competing. Her first year with them, the team went to Lake Placid for a regional competition and came in third. They received their medals in the Olympic Oval, which is one of her favorite memories. Her name is now included on a wall at the Olympic rink! This year, Stephanie is focusing on free dance, and is searching for a partner. At the moment, she is getting ready for the yearly show, where she will be performing a solo, and a free dance program with her partner/coach.

Why does she love skating so much? Stephanie says she likes that she can accomplish goals, such as landing jumps and passing tests for levels, and it makes her feel powerful, giving her confidence on and off the rink. She generally skates five days a week.

How does Stephanie balance school and skating? First, she says, she makes very good use of her time in class, which leaves her with less homework. What homework she does have, she does immediately after school, because she knows that if she doesn’t, there’ll be no time later. Before she goes to skating, however, she goes downstairs to help her mother with her day-care business. After all that, she heads off to skating, comes home around nine, and heads straight to bed.

Even with this tight schedule, Stephanie seeks out challenges, such as formally studying ASL (American Sign Language), as well as reading about psychology in her “free” time. In school, she was accepted into the Peer Mediation Training this year, has taken the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) World of Difference training, is a peer tutor, and an SST office apprentice.

If you can catch Stephanie between classes and activities, say hi and wish her good luck with her skating!

"Circle Mirror Transformation" Huge Success

Photo of Circle Mirror Transformation cast

 

Congratulations to our amazing, creative, and talented students for a successful showing at the Drama Festival!

This winter, the Sizer Theater Arts club (SiTA) has been working on a performance called Circle Mirror Transformation by Annie Baker. This past week the actors took their production and competed in the the Massachusetts High School Drama Festival. Students and adults all walked away very impressed with the production.The students, directed by Mr. Noah Dawson, worked incredibly hard on the show and were excited to share their work with an audience from across the state.

After performing in the preliminary round and winning a total of 6 awards for stage manager, lighting design and execution, three acting awards, and a student recognition award for most thought provoking line, Sizer Theater Arts proudly moved onto the semi-final round with their show.

The Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild, Inc. exists for the charitable and educational purpose of promoting and strengthening excellence, access, and education in the theatrical arts for middle and secondary school students and teachers. For more than 80 years, the METG has been a leader in arts education, believing that theater has a unique power to enrich and transform young people’s lives.

In Circle Mirror Transformation, an unlikely collection of strangers sign up for Marty's creative drama class: a recently divorced carpenter, a high school junior, a former actress, and Marty's husband. Throughout, the group plays Marty's imaginative (and sometimes awkward) theatre games. But as their relationships develop over the course of the summer, the seemingly silly games generate some real-life drama.

SiTA will continue to the semi-final round of the Festival on Saturday, March 19th. Learn more at the Massachusetts Theatre Guild website

 

Interview with Alexis, Class of 2019

Photo of Alexis sitting on the risers in Mrs. Cordio's room.

 

1.  Did you choose Sizer or did your parents? Why?

My mom chose Sizer because she said it was the best school around. She did research on the internet. I decided to come here after I heard all about it from her. I think it’s a great school. I was literally failing all of my classes before and here I was able to receive a lot of help and after school help that brought my grades up.

2.  What is your favorite subject and why?

Chorus. Why? Because Mrs. Cordio teaches us how to use our vocal chords and its pretty amazing what we can do with our voices. I’m also a song writer and like to mix different types of music and make my own. She gives me a place to do that and be creative.

3.  Who is your hero and why?

My uncle Julio. He’s a really special person. He is a professional boxer and lives in Puerto Rico. I was struggling and going through a hard time and he came here for me. He taught me about respecting others and taught me to look at my actions and where they lead. He tries to teach me what not to do. He checks in and calls me and gives me great advice. He is my mentor.

4.  Do you participate in any clubs, sports, etc?

Right now I participate in chorus because I love music. Other than that I am usually working or with my girlfriend or with my family.

5.  Is there anything you’d share with a student who is considering coming to Sizer School?

Sizer School helps me move closer to making my dreams a reality. This community helps each other. So, even if you think you have a small dream, people get excited with you and make it a big deal here. I’m doing a coat drive and this school is really helping me make it successful. I’d like to let people know that if they have a coat, any size, please pass it along so we can get it into the hands of someone who needs it.

 

Ms. Vazquez: Where would you like to take your picture?

Alexis: In Mrs. Cordio’s room.

Ms. Vazquez: Of course, I should have guessed.

Alexis: *smiles*

As interviews go there are times when a particular answer to a standard question allows us to stray in another direction with other questions. Alexis shared a very touching story with me about his father reaching out to him after a decade of no contact and asked for his forgiveness. Most teens and even most adults would have turned away, choosing to focus on the hurt that has been created. Alexis is not like most teens, he chose to forgive and let go of the hurt. He chose to forgive. That story in and of itself speaks to the strong moral character of this young man and proves that no matter where he chooses to go in life, so long as he does so with that same sense of community, the spirit of love and the act of forgiveness, he will be able to make all of his dreams a reality.

 

 

3D Printing for Every Student

All Sizer students have an account on the school’s network that allows them to print paper reports and other academic work – but starting next week, they’ll also have an account with the 3D printer in the Library.

The story of Sizer’s 3D printer started back in the fall of 2013 when Sizer agreed to pilot the use of a NVBOTS 3D printer designed specifically for school use. The device proved so popular that the following year we included a 3D printing as part of our 7th and 8th grade technology classes with Mr Aubuchon. The 8th graders made braille dog tags to supplement a unit in English on Helen Keller, and the 7th graders made bookmarks to go with a fairy tale assignment for English.

This year the creative use of this device continues, and is a source of interest for all classes. Our 7th graders are designing and printing small containers with lids that will be used their math classes to predict and measure volume.  The 9th graders will soon begin an interdisciplinary project on change and will have the choice to print 3D objects for this project.

Now that the school has integrated 3D printing into the curriculum, Mr. Sullivan has created accounts for each student. Next week when students get their passwords they will be able to upload their designs directly to the printer’s server, and will be approved by Ms Tarantino or Mr Aubuchon for printing.

Ms Tarantino will be working with Advisors to get every student their password.  All students should pay attention to the Friday Flash for tips each week on how to design for the printer. 

 

FAQ:

Why give every student an account with access to 3D printing?

We’ve decided to do this for a few reasons:

1.    A part of our school’s vision statement says we will, “do what it takes to inspire passionate, creative and life-long learners.” This is one way to help achieve that vision.

2.    Since receiving our first 3D printer in the fall of 2013, Sizer has always had a policy that any student can get an account for the 3D Printer if they take a few online lessons using Tinkercad, a free 3D design software service.  In the fall of 2014, we began including 3D printing as a part of our required Middle School Technology class.  At this point (January 2016) the majority of our 7th, 8th, and 9th graders have been introduced to designing for 3D printing and have used the printer in class.  We are now removing the requirement that students must take a few online lessons before being given an account.

3.    Over 13 years ago when our school opened, it was common for a student to be given an account that allowed them to print reports and academic work on two-dimensional paper with a laser printer.  We feel it is time to include three-dimensional work too.

Will students be able to print anything they want?

No, students will be able to upload anything they want to the print server, but from there a teacher (currently either Mr Aubuchon, the Technology teacher or Ms Tarantino, the Curriculum &Technology Integration Coach) will have to approve all items before printing.

Does the printer have to be used only for school work?

In general yes.  All print jobs must be part of classwork or Sizer clubs.  Classes at sizer offers students many opportunities for independent or group projects and clubs offers additional opportunities for students to design and print.

Will students be charged to print?

Not this year. We don’t know about future years.  The cost for the 3D printer and its supplies have been donated for the past two years.

Do students have to share their email or other private information to use the printer?

No. The student accounts do not require email to access and students are only allowed to upload designs to the print server. They are unable to chat or exchange information with other people on this server. It is very similar to the process of sending a print job to a regular laser printer at school. 

 

Happy Printing!

 

Recycled Rodeo at Sizer

If you happened to step into the atrium Thursday morning, you may have wondered what you were seeing! If you were here early, you saw an old trailer frame, some pieces that looked like junk, and some rolls of colored tape. As the morning progressed, and Ms. Clarke’s third and fourth period art students worked with a special guest, the materials started to transform into a rolling art piece.

The special guest was Jerry Beck, a Fitchburg resident who is the executive director of the Revolving Museum.  This is the second time Mr. Beck has collaborated with Sizer students on a special project. This type of artwork is part of the "Recyled Rodeo," which encourages students to turn recyled materials into creative art pieces. According to an interview with Mr. Beck from the Worcester Telegram and Gazette,

“There is a certain magic that happens when children are given the tools, encouragement and permission to create art...What we are helping kids to understand is that art isn’t just an object in a museum. Involving kids in art as a social practice is something we do to help them understand collaboration and expression and the power of art as an aesthetic process. This is really the cutting edge of how we can make an impact in our communities.”

By lunchtime, the assortment of odd items were unrecognizable, and many people passing through the atrium stopped to comment on what they were seeing, and how they were interpreting it.  When it was time to go, students wheeled the former trailer out the front door and put it on the trailer hitch on Mr. Beck’s car.  Perhaps you saw it as it passed through the streets of town, sun glittering off the material.

One of Ms. Clarke’s students reflected on the experience, saying it was different working on such a large project, and it was the first time he had worked on a piece with other people at the same time.  He did note the experience involved many senses-including “the potent smell of the tape.” He would be happy to have the opportunity to do it again– “it was a lot fun.”

For more information about Recyled Rodeo, click here to see the Worcester Telegram article.

 

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