The Future is Here

IMG_6439.JPG

For the past four years, and even longer than that really, the year 2017 has been talked about as this mystical year in the future. This great year that we’ve worked so hard to get to. The year I turn 18. The year I graduate high school. The year I go to college. The year so much changes.

It’s always seemed so far away; a distant future. The end of the line and the beginning of a new era.

Now it’s only hours away.

2017, the year of my future is so close I can’t believe it. I can’t believe that I turn 18 in a mere two days and I graduate in a few months and I go to college in less than a year. So much is about to happen in my life, so much that has been talked about for all of the years of my existence.

Everything has always been “leading to 2017”- well now it’s here and not slowing down.

First semester has gone by so fast. Life has been crazy to say the least. Between home, school, work, and friends there has been a lot going on. (So much that I’ve not been able to blog nearly as much as I’ve wanted due to so many late nights…)

I’m told that second semester goes by even faster for seniors. After accounting for breaks, trips and events, and senior work days, there are hardly any school days left for seniors. Graduation is just around the corner and sometimes I feel incredibly ready, and other times I feel incredibly not.

But 2017 will come all the same. It is here. It is now. It is time. Image result for 2017

Time for 2016 to be over and time for things to start changing. The new year is here; class of 2017, good luck, because our future has arrived.

 

Real Work Now

PB;J Map All V1.pngPB;J Map Directions V1.png

I love a good productive day!!! (#ThursdaysRock) Today we had our first official client meeting for PB;J our project team in ID that is working with the City of Sandy Springs to decrease traffic.

For the past few weeks the team has been working on data collection and research, and today our goal was to present to our clients the information that we have gathered and make them aware of our next steps in the process. I’m pleased to report we blew them away!!! They even said:

“The work you guys have shown us is amazing is amazing despite the fact that you are students; it’s honestly better than some of the other work we’ve been presented with from adult consultants.”

The pictures above on this post show a map that I created that pin points where all of the 662 MVPS families live to help us figure out how people get to school and what roads get most congested. They were very impressed with this visual and found it very powerful, so powerful that they want us to take it even further so one of my next steps is going to be adding onto this map where the locations of different public transportation systems are.

This was a mutually beneficial meeting, because it helped everyone get clarity on the potential and path that this project is taking. We were able to define clear data that we’ve collected and also work with our clients to determine goals for our November meeting:

  1. further develop the map visual to include public transit
  2. identify some focus groups to get the community involved with ideating and getting on board with the importance of reducing traffic to gain early support
  3. continue to work on our digital tool for counting the number of cars coming in and out of MVPS on a daily basis
  4. reach out to specific external experts we’ve identified on the topic to help further our work

To be honest our team felt greatly un-prepared all week. We had to have some serious hard talks as a team about everyone not being on the same page and needing to really step up to be ready for today. Even this morning we were stressed out getting last minute things together. I think what was most helpful to our team was our quick feedback session we set to have with the full ID cohort about 45 minutes before our meeting. This session allowed us to get that last minute feedback we needed to feel more confident in our work and make sure we were communicating in the best way possible. Somehow our team pulled it together and I think this successful client meeting has helped to clarify our internal vision and set clear goals for us to work on in the coming weeks.

I’m so proud of our team, and still so pumped about how excited and impressed our clients were about the work we’ve been working on in ID!!! Students CAN do “real world” work NOW- and do it well!  

Breathtaking

Ever have those moments when you see something so breathtaking that you just can’t quite describe it in words? Those moments where you realize that even when you try to frame a million words you still don’t have the full picture.

I saw a brilliant play tonight called, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime,” that left me speechless.

Fifteen-year-old Christopher has an extraordinary brain; he is exceptionally intelligent but ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. When he falls under suspicion for killing his neighbor’s dog, he sets out to identify the true culprit, which leads to an earth-shattering discovery and a journey that will change his life forever.

The show masterfully combined a compelling plot with a simple set that took advantage of the wonders of technology and people alike. The only actual set pieces beside 3 floor to ceiling tech paneled walls (I honestly can’t describe them much better than that), were about 10 blocks that were used to create different settings and could glow different colors when not in their neutral all white state. There were lots of scenes where there was minimal talking, but intricately choreographed stage fights and moments of confusion or “insanity” where people would appear to be walking on walls, flying, or even just imitating the chaos of a busy London street.

I don’t want to give much away about the plot itself, but the last line was something to the extent of, “So I can do anything, right?!” It’s such an intriguing question because as a optimist I might want to say, “Yes!”, but as a realist I might want to say, “Well, no there are somethings you just can’t do, but those are things no one can do.” But at the same time, I could also be a realist by saying, “It’s all just a matter of time.” Who knows what may someday be possible? Maybe there are things we can’t do now, but in years to come flying in a jet pack may be as normal as talking on a cell phone.  Who’s to say what can and can’t be done? Is it ever reasonable to say without first trying?

Flexible Schedules

images-1.jpgWow it was a crazy weekend of late nights. I saw West Side Story Friday night and then right after drove to a friends lake house where we arrived at 1am. Then the following night one of the parents stepped on a copper head snake, got bitten, and had to go to the hospital where he spent the night. Then the following night the power went out and we had no battery operated fans, but we couldn’t get the car out of the garage so we called a friend to do a late night run to Walmart in PJs. And then last night we just watched a family movie and afterwards I fell asleep reading.

Long story short, I haven’t blogged in a while. I realized today how it’s surprisingly a lot easier to blog during the school year. I remember after school started during my original 100 day challenge, one of my teachers had said that he expected me to be writing less after school started because I would have less time, but I actually wrote more. I believe this was for a number of reasons. At school there are constantly people you are having intellectual conversations, despite if it is by  choice or not. Plus you often find things that bug you which are some of the easiest to blog about. And furthermore, over the summer you stay up later with friends and family because you don’t have school in the morning to worry about so you can actually sleep in!

However, summer isn’t only about staying up late, playing with friends and family, and sleeping in. In fact I like to say summer is when I can finally work on all of the things I don’t typically have time for during the school year. Currently I’m working on 4 different project teams, have almost finished my 4th book, have made over a dozen gymnastics songs and routines for next year, have practiced an entire new music book of songs on flute/piccolo, have coached at fuse16, have coached summer camp, have/will have several conversations with schools around the country and Grant Lichtman about the future of education, and to top it all off I have intensely researched over 20 different colleges and will be touring some later this summer while visiting family in the north east.

Summer doesn’t just mean fun time, but it also can mean fun work time. And this isn’t like a teacher trying to be clever and trying to make homework sound better, because this work is often self assigned.

It’s amazing what we can get done with a more flexible schedule.

Changing Time

Not going to lie, I definitely watched tonights last episode of Dance Moms with Maddie and Mackenzie and it was pretty stinking sad. It’s just another big change for next year to add to the list.

It seems this year so many things are changing and everyone just keeps thinking about next year and how I’ll be graduating and it’s all just flying by so fast. I can barely even believe our current seniors are leaving! Just today at our honors assembly we were honoring our 2 first ever graduates with the Innovation Diploma, and it made me realize, “Wow this all started just two years ago, and it now life feels like yesterday and tomorrow all at the same time.”

I know we (as a human population in many different contextual situations) always seem to bounce back after we think we won’t possibly be able to continue without certain people being constant members of our lives, but that doesn’t make it any less sad to see them go. I’ve been friends with members of the current senior class since my 7th grade and we’ve been through so much since then. Especially in theater, I still can’t imagine a world without our amazing techies who have been there since my freshman year always working and having fun with us, and all of the thespians who have joined us along the way.

Plus some of my favorite teachers are leaving, and in general the school is just going through such a rapid period of growth like one I’ve never before experienced.

We are in a period of immense, undeniable change not just with the graduation of another class, but in life in general. Everything around me seems to be changing all at once and it’s kind of a crazy time. In some ways I’m ready for this school year to be over, and in others I’m not at all ready for the next one to begin.

With AP exams, last assemblies, year books, and graduation all happening right about now, these have just been some thoughts circling my mind.

Telling Time Through the Arts

CgcoTZBUsAA28zM.jpgCgcoTZFUEAEIdZb.jpg

I always am able to tell that time is passing based on the arts in my life.

This week is my last theater performance before I’m a senior, and ironically it The Lion King Jr. which the middle school is performing and I have a cameo in. Ironic because it’s a middle school show, and because it is The Lion King which I was begging to do during middle school but we didn’t have the rights for, so instead the cast of Willy Wonka (my 7th grade year) would sing all of The Lion King Songs all of the time in band and on the way to rehearsal. It’s been so nostalgic for me to work with the middle schoolers and remember what it was like back when I was their age in theater.

Then today I got to go to a Georgia Tech band concert and I started to feel old there as well, because it was one of the first times where we saw something like that and were talking about how many of the seniors are going to be those kids in the concert just next year. Then it’s only one more year for me until the end of high school…

Plus this weekend is our annual theater banquet where we give out awards for shows this year and also induct new National Thespian Society members. This is making me feel like time is passing because it really signifies the end of the year for me, and also it’s weird because everyone keeps coming to me with questions about it. I’m not use to being the one people come to for theater banquet questions because I still get confused about what to wear or expect as well. (In fact, I’m still often texting my friends that were former MVPAllStars to ask about theater banquet questions.)

Time flies when you’re telling stories.

Waiting for Thursdays

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 11.12.23 PM.png

I haven’t blogged in a while. Partially because I’ve been busy and already up too late, but also partially because I haven’t had anything happen that makes me think, “I have to blog about this,” and I didn’t feel like writing more posts about how I’ve been feeling this way for a little while now.

However, today was different. Today was exciting. Today was productive. Today was noteworthy. Today was a Thursday.

It seems that every week we have 3 days of more just planning, responding to emails, trying to organize meetings, then Thursday comes around where we have the first half of the day to work in ID and that’s when we really get to be productive. The last several Thursdays have ended in some kind of big success moment; using the laser cutter to design our logo, having feedback interviews with teachers, going to Georgia Tech to see their facilities and get feedback from a professional,  and then today when we made large strides in the process of having two full scale prototypes done by next Thursday. (Go figure, it’s another Thursday…)

This pattern isn’t just true of the ReSpIn team either. The other teams in ID also had really productive days. One team got pictures taken of everyone and started using makey makey to design a way to visually represent the strengths of every ID cohort member. Another team made huge head way on their design driver and sketch up model for their design brief venture working with  S.J. Collins enterprise to design a pocket park for the new Whole Foods being built in Chamblee.

By the end of the day, everyone was ringing our metaphorical progress bell (we had a physical one, but it always disappears and then shows up randomly). Also today, over half of us even decided that we will come in next Wednesday, when we don’t have school due to a conference day, just so that we can have time to work for a long period of time on our projects.

You know a program is successful when you have students planning for themselves to come in on a day off in order to keep working.

I just wish we there were more Thursday’s in a week. More days where we had large amounts of time to put towards our work. It seems every other day is just waiting for Thursday because that’s when we have the time to go off campus, or schedule meetings with people that don’t have the same schedule as us (Small tangent: it is amazing how hard it is to bridge the gap between school and the real world when the real world runs on such a different schedule. Everyone wants to make meeting appointments for hours and half hours, but most of the time that means we’re in the middle of a class or at the very end or beginning.), or use machines that take more than 50 minutes to get what you want from them.

Sometimes it feels like we’re just constantly waiting for Thursdays, because those are the days we always leave feeling like we actually were really productive and successful in making progress towards a bigger goal in our journey.