PatChat is your inside view of GA from students' perspective

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Class of 2020's Career Opportunities

Recently, Mr. Wright challenged me and a few other seventh graders to come up with an idea that the seventh grade could do this year that would be unique to our class. After taking some time, I began to look at programs in the eighth grade and realized that they are involved in Day Off Campus [check out Margaret H.'s post here]. Day Off Campus is when the eighth grade leaves campus to shadow a professional for the day and learn about their career. At that moment, I came up with the idea for Career Day for the seventh grade which would allow us an opportunity to meet with professionals so we could have a better idea of what to do for our Day Off Campus next year. After speaking with Mr. Wright, I started to work on putting together Career Day. First, I had to find some students and teachers to help organize the event. I asked John K. ‘20, Lauren P. ‘20 and Lily E. ’20. The next step was to present the idea to our class Head Advisor, Mr. Templeton and get it approved by the Middle School Student Government Association (SGA).

Keynote speaker John Brazer addresses the Class of 2020.
After putting a team together and receiving approval, I then met with Mrs. Zighelboim from the Office of Institutional Advancement who helped me start to find alumni/ae and parents who would be interesting in participating in Career Day. During the planning process I emailed the fifteen professionals to see if they would like to participate, make sure the time worked, and to finalize the schedule for the day. I sent the last email about four days before the event to confirm everyone and to let them know how excited I was for the day. Although the day was planned, there were still a few things that occurred that made me nervous. Unfortunately, two speakers were unable to show. But with the help of Mr. Templeton and Mrs. Zurcher we were able to adjust the day.

The day finally arrived and I was both nervous and excited. After Mr. Templeton’s, introduction I introduced the keynote speaker, Mr. John Brazer, who is the Director of Publicity for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Actor Richard Lynnton talks about his craft.
Once he finished, then the day began and I was off to my first session. During the first session, I met with Mr. Matt Paul, who is an entrepreneur. His presentation very good and he gave out shirts of his business. Everyone seemed to enjoy his presentation. After his twenty minute talk, I headed hear from Mr. Richard Lynnton, who is an actor. He showed clips of his work and I thought it was really cool.

The day concluded after the sessions and we all went back to the Honickman Auditorium to wrap up. Overall, the day went well and everyone seemed to enjoy their presentations. As we head into next year, I feel we will all be prepared for Day Off Campus. I believe everyone had an exciting time hearing the presentations and I am so glad that everyone did. Career Day was a success and I can’t wait to organize more events as one of the new Co-Presidents of the SGA.
Lily, John, and Sasha, the student organizers of Career Day.

I would like to thank Mr. Templeton, Mr. Wright, Mrs. Zighelboim, and Mrs. Zurcher for all of their help. This day would have not been possible without my teachers and fellow students’ help.

~ Sasha C. '20

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Middle School Students Learn Compassion

Today, we bring the experience of two members of the Class of  2020 who headed with some of their peers to the Middle School Diversity Conference accompanied by Mr. Jay Wright. Read on to see what Sasha and Sabrina got out of their day.

On a recent Tuesday, I went to the Haverford School for the Fourth Annual Middle School Diversity Conference. This was a great opportunity for me and all of the sixteen other students from GA who participated. When we first arrived, we were all ready to go and very excited to meet all the new people. When we walked into Haverford’s auditorium, we were welcomed by the conference organizers. Soon after, we were treated to a performance by Dr. Michael Fowlin.

Although the GA students had seen this performance before, it was even more meaningful this time due to the nature of the day. In Dr. Fowlin’s performance, “You Don’t Know Me Until You Know Me”, he transforms himself into a variety of different characters. These characters all had a “mask” on, meaning they had to uncover about themselves.

After the wonderful performance, everyone separated into groups. My group had twelve people in it and each member of my group was from a different school. We had two high school chaperones from the Baldwin School who were there to help us throughout the day. At first we were all very nervous and didn’t really talk at all, but the leaders of the group asked what the best part of the performance to us was. This started conversation since there were many different answers. Each person in my group had different points of view due to our experiences in school and at home. As we all sat around the circle talking about the performance, we got into conversations about different kinds of bullying. Some people said cyberbullying and others said physical bullying. When it was my turn to speak, I brought up disguised bullying. In my opinion, this is the worst form of bullying. It is also known as microaggression. It is when you don’t really know it’s bullying until you know the victim is hurting. My group talked about this and most of them agreed. Some of the group debated if this is the type of bullying that affects people the most, but I expected this because we were all from different backgrounds and have different ways of seeing situations.

After lunch, we went to another auditorium to watch a very inspirational video. The video was about three girls giving their take on how they view the matters of the United States. After the video, we went back to our groups to discuss what we just watched. Everyone in my group thought it was definitely one of a kind. The video brought up points that no one really had discussed which was interesting. After we spent more time in our groups and did more reflecting, we went into another auditorium. There I met up with the rest of the GA representatives.
As a group, we discussed what I heard in my smaller group. Other members of the GA group had a much different conversation than me. They explained how they heard stories of students who had been bullied personally and how they almost committed suicide. During our reflection I noticed how none of the GA students have been directly affected by such experiences. In my opinion, GA does a pretty good job protecting us from all these various forms of bullying. I am grateful for the way GA students and faculty treat each other and support each other.

~ Sasha C. ‘20

Sasha, Sabrina, and the GA contingent at the Middle School Diversity Conference. 
The Middle School Diversity Conference was a memorable day for me. One of the reasons why was the speaker who presented to us at the beginning. His name was Dr. Michael Fowlin and he shared a lot of his memories, good and bad, from his childhood in his act. His act consisted of four characters, which had a part of himself in each. He mentioned the idea that everyone was wearing a mask and not being true to themselves as well as others. I thought to myself if I had a mask on at that very moment. Was I a fake that was influenced by other people that led to the extremes of not even knowing my true self? One of the greatest things I heard during the talk is something that I will never forget. Dr. Fowlin mentioned an event that goes on in some African villages. Whenever someone makes a mistake or does something wrong and regrets it, the whole village circles around that person. You would assume that they would call him negative names. Nope. The whole village showers that person with compliments and reminds them of the positive things they’ve done. This had an impact on me because that is a sign of true respect. The last thing that really stuck with me was when, at the very end of the speech, Dr. Fowlin told the whole auditorium that they are beautiful. Three simple words that had the power to change my mindset towards everyone: “You are beautiful.”

After the talk was finished, we were separated into groups and asked to answer questions aloud. We answered all the questions with 20 minutes remaining, which wasn’t necessarily the best thing. It was silent among our group, but the chatter of the rest of the people in the auditorium was still present. At that very moment, I acknowledged the concept of leadership at GA. I am a new student this year so I value these rules with great significance. I just blurted out that if everyone was just happy, the conflict wouldn’t be there. From this arose talk among the group and put a smile on my face. I learned that if everyone thought they could rely on others to be leaders, then who would be the leaders?
We then watched a short clip about banned books and other inappropriate ideas which are not banned. There was one line I remembered that held great importance. It said To Kill a Mockingbird was banned for using intense language, whereas the KKK website was open to the public. This opened my eyes to take more notice of things that are ethically good or bad. The MS Diversity Conference was unlike any other experience I have ever had and I enjoyed it very much. I hope to go again next year so that I’ll keep up the knowledge of these subjects and that I remember that I’m beautiful.

~Sabrina M. ‘20

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

What a Day for House Olympics!

Coming into GA, I heard a little bit about House competitions and the day of House Olympics. House Olympics and House competitions are great examples of how the GA community comes together. The competitions throughout the year, such as kickball and the talent show, were very fun and enjoyable.
Alcott House pride evident in its freshmen.
But they were all inferior compared to House Olympics. On the day of House Olympics, everyone came dressed in their House pinny and face paint (of your House colors). We started off the day with a House breakfast. My House, Alcott, had pancakes, donuts, and other awesome foods and beverages. Then we went to the Arts Center to see some musical performances and the annual video as part of the Best of GA Assembly.
Kashta D. and Marcus V. '15 control the crowd.
After the video, we headed outside to take some cool pictures with everyone in our House. And then the moment we had all been waiting for finally began. We heard the buzz, and the first event started. Whether you were in Sudoku, the scavenger hunt, 2D/3D Art, tug of war, or the relay, competition was fierce. Everyone was willing to go the extra mile to get their House the most points. I appreciate how all of the events targeted everyone’s unique strengths. For example, if you are a great art student, but not such a great athlete, then you could compete in one of the 2D or 3D art competitions. There was also a lot of House bonding time. If you weren’t in an event at a certain time, you could grab a snack from your grade table and then cheer on your other House members during their events. It’s amazing how fierce competition can bring people together. Personally, I really enjoyed competing with my House against all of my friends in my events, which were chicken baseball and the relay. Truesdell was somehow able to pull off being back to back champions. Although Alcott took 4th place this year, I am confident that we can come out on top next year. Overall, I really enjoyed the entire day of events.

JT takes off on her leg of the relay.
~ JT S. ‘18
Ever wondered what chicken baseball was? So did JT until House Olympics.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

GA's Club Med

The idea for Club Med began with my friend Claudia M. ‘15, who wanted to start a club for students interested in a career in the medical field. After meeting with our club advisor, Ms. Dann, she sent out an invitation to students who would be interested in developing the club. With the organizational help of Ms. Dann and Ms. Durkin, Club Med launched its first panel during the spring of 2014.
Akosua and her cofounders introduce Club Med's guests.
The goal of this panel was to provide a mixture of stories from individuals in various stages of the medical careers, and featured GA parents, GA alums in the workforce and alums in medical school. The mixture of intellectual conversation and interesting anecdotes proved to be success!

This March, Club Med held its first event of the 2015, which was an intimate conversation with Dr. Carmen Guerra. Dr. Guerra shared her inspiring story of immigrating from Honduras, and the explained the difficulties that she faced while navigating through her educational career. She was gracious enough to give a presentation on her work in innovative cancer research. I speak for all the students in attendance when I say that we were left speechless after her presentation, whether it was because of her inspirational journey and motivational advice, or because of the new insights we received about advances in cancer research.

In April, we hosted a panel that was geared towards presenting students with a range of perspectives from practicing medical professionals. To organize this panel, we sat down and chose the individuals we wanted to feature, and sent those individuals email invitations.
The panelists at April's Club Med event.
After the panelists were confirmed, it was up to Claudia, Michelle K. '16, and me to spread the word to the school via emails, morning meeting announcements, and face to face invitations. We had a great turnout for the panel, which was preceded by a dinner that we were graciously afforded by Mr. Schellhas.

This panel featured a veterinarian, a psychologist, a psychiatrist, an ophthalmologist, and two laboratory researchers. We dedicated a portion of our time to hear from the panelists about their day to day experiences at work, and about any particularly memorable moments in their careers. Because I’m not sure about what area in medicine I would want to specialize in, I appreciated the insight that they provided.

Apart from the fascinating stories about their day to day experiences, the panelists also shared advice for us as we move forward in our journeys to follow in their footsteps. A prominent piece of advice from the panelists was to “work hard, play hard”. One of the reasons I enjoyed this panel discussion was because of the honesty that the panelists spoke with. A few voiced that they regretted letting their work overshadow their personal experiences, and advised us to find a balance between working to achieve our goals and spending time to relax and enjoy time with family and friends. Another noteworthy piece of advice came from GA parent Dr. Averbuch, cancer researcher. He told us about the importance of failure and that recovering from failure is a vital part of his work. He shared with us a story about a failed drug that he’d spent tremendous time and effort on. But after evaluating their methodologies and examining their shortcomings, his team was able to tweak the drug that is now being used for another purpose. Another theme of our panel was innovations in the medical field, as best explained by Dr. Ho, an ophthalmologist who talked about his work to create a “bionic eye” for a woman suffering from a form of blindness.
Students listen intently about various fields of medicine.

Moving forward, I am very excited to see where we can take Club Med, and hope to invite more professionals to inform and inspire students. It is very exciting to help expose my classmates with an array of opportunities for the future and foster relationships between students and medical professionals. I also hope that the other members of the student body look forward to growing their love of medicine as we work to grow Club Med.

~ Akosua A. ‘17

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Classrooms Extend To Zoo

This year, both sections of the Environmental Science and Natural History class took a trip to the Philadelphia Zoo. We had the entire day to walk around observe a ton of animals we would otherwise never see on an ordinary day. We were assigned two journal entries and along with a few other assignments to act as our final exam. The journal entries were to reflect on two different animals and how they would be living in the wild to further assess the zoo as a permanent habitat for those animals. Completing more than half of a final exam on a field trip made for the best end of senior year assignment I’ve received. The trip also provided time for some class bonding while we explored the Zoo.

Ciara's view of one of the Zoo's lions.

A personal favorite from the Zoo were the white-handed gibbons that were very lively and acted very similarly to the way humans do. I cannot emphasize how great it was to see these types of animals that I would not have been able to see without significant travel. In this class we’ve learned about the environment, animals and human impact on both. Getting to leave the classroom to learn even more was an extraordinary experience and I would take this class again just to go on the Philadelphia Zoo trip again if I could.

~ Ciara Q ‘15

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Middle School Students Lead Parent Conferences

Here in the Germantown Academy Middle School, we recently had our first student-led teacher conferences. This was a completely new experience for many of the students, including myself. We began preparing for these conferences weeks in advance by filling out various worksheets about how we felt we were doing in our studies. From reflection to comment prediction, my classmates and I had taken a complete look at our academic performance. Despite all the preparation, I still felt slightly nervous talking to my parents and advisor for fifteen minutes straight. I do see these people everyday and talking to them should have come as second nature. And about five minutes into my conference I started to feel more comfortable and realized how foolish I was to feel nervous. It was a nice feeling to see three people be proud of my accomplishments and understanding of my faults. Overall, I felt that the conference went well. But I have to say I am glad that I am going into Upper School next year and can sleep in during my parent teacher conference.

~ Margaret H. ‘19

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Saeed Jones Brings Buzz to Campus

A few weeks ago, when the annual writer in residence was announced, I saw that Saeed Jones was coming to GA for about a week. When I found this out, I did a quick search online, and I found that an exceptionally successful and interesting writer was coming to GA.
Saeed Jones spent several days on campus.
What I found most interesting about Mr. Jones was that his day job (besides writing) was at BuzzFeed, one of the most rapidly growing and powerful startups right now. For me, being interested in both technology and literature, talking to Mr. Jones was a unique experience.

Mr. Jones visited with multiple groups and classes during his stay.
I had the opportunity to attend a workshop where he talked to a few of my fellow classmates and me about journalism, writing, and growing up in general. What made the discussion so interesting was talking to a passionate and successful person with only 10 people in the room, as opposed to 500 at an assembly. Mr. Jones also found a way to balance humility with honesty, which most young people cannot do. Furthermore, talking to someone who imbues his online persona (23k followers on Twitter) with, to quote Mr. Jones, “public intellectual discourse” was quite refreshing, as sometimes I feel that our increasingly online lives leave that aspect out of our lives.
Students were rapt by Mr. Jones' perspectives.
Continuing that idea, I found Mr. Jones’s statements about the future of BuzzFeed (and social media) to be quite interesting; he is now the literary editor of BuzzFeed, which is not a position that most technology companies have. What I found clear is that Mr. Jones will have a big future to play in our lives, both online and in print. His unique perspective on the world and interesting stories are captivating, and it was truly grounding to talk personally to someone who inspires so many.

~Owen R. ‘17