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Innovation Tech students share "Passion Projects"

If it is passion you are seeking, these students have it – and for all the right reasons. Students at Innovation Tech in Liverpool recently shared more than 30 “Passion Projects” on subjects dear to their hearts, from the prevalence of teen violence to the life of Benedict Arnold to a relief effort for victims of Hurricane Matthew.
 
Parents, classmates, teachers, administrators, friends, local education leaders and other guests, including state Sen. John DeFrancisco, stopped by Dec. 21 to listen to presentations that spanned two hours.
 
One presenter, Cheyenne MacDonald, called her project about negative body image “Perfectly Imperfect” and shared numerous images of her classmates – photographs she took herself. “When I showed my peers their finished photos, they smiled. They felt good about themselves, and that’s all I really wanted,” she said.
 
Cameron Burns shared a large and intricate metal statue of a tyrannosaurus rex, one that earned him a perfect score in his OCM BOCES welding class. Tracing and cutting small, puzzle-like pieces out of sheet metal was the most difficult part, he said. Another challenge was getting the dinosaur to stand, a problem he resolved when by adding a support bar between the two front legs. Several guests suggested displaying it at an art show.
 
Three girls – Amber Venturi, Aliya Whitaker and Abby Hastings – changed their project mid-stream after seeing the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew on television. “If my family were there, I would definitely want someone to send help,” Abby explained.
 
Ally Cohen had a popular presentation called the “Penelope Project” that featured a small brown bunny. Cohen researched animals that can be used for therapy to help students feel comfortable and peaceful at school. Ally herself used to be anxious and negative about school until she came to Innovation Tech this year. She appreciates her teachers, she said, because they allow students to be independent and creative.
 
“Projects like this – who can say they got a bunny for school and make it educational?” she asked.
 
Innovation Tech and the OCM BOCES’ Seven Valleys New Tech Academy in Cortland are the only two high schools in Central New York that are part of the growing and research-driven New Tech Network. New Tech is a non-profit organization based in Napa, Calif., with 190 schools in 26 states. Facilitators at Innovation Tech, now in its third year, said the event on Dec. 21 demonstrates a New Tech emphasis on relevant and authentic learning that requires collaboration, oral and written communication, knowlege & thinking, agency (giving students the power and responsibility to act) and connections with the community, among other traits. It is the kind of learning that inspires students to be engaged  -- and passionate – about what they do.
 
“These presentations highlight the very essence of our school,” Principal Gretchen Belanger said.

In the photos:
Top row, left to right: Ally Cohen discusses the Penelope Project; Quinn Rivera discusses her love of the FBI with state Sen. John DeFrancisco; students Amber Venturi, Aliya Whitaker and Abby Hastings talk about their relief effort for victims of Hurricane Matthew.

Bottom row, left to right: Damien Monteleone talks about the life of Benedict Arnold with a life-size cutout; Cameron Burns sits near his popular T-Rex; Cheyenne MacDonald presents this slide for her presentation, "Perfectly Imperfect."

Please check out the THE ENTIRE LIST of presentations.

 

 

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