Principal's Corner

Student autonomy was one of the topics of discussion at last week's Coffee with the Principal. We talked about the great learning that happens when strict guidelines are lifted to allow students room to explore their creativity on some of their own terms. This week I'm sharing some examples that show this process in action.

Best Regards,

~Mr. Smail



Our physics students have spent the last week working with NuVu associate Dustin Brugmann to develop electricity-free kitchen gadgets. The gadgets could be used in disaster-relief zones or for camping or, perhaps, just for whimsical purposes. Students have brainstormed multiple ideas, drawn them from different perspectives, and crafted 3D versions out of cardboard! Next week, they'll spiral through the design process, creating digitized drawings that can drive laser cutters and 3D printers.

Studio Art I, September 2017

The same leaves over and over again!

They fall from giving shade above

To make one texture of faded brown

And fit the earth like a leather glove.

                                  (From In Harwood Groves, Robert Frost

The leaf drawings hanging in the hall outside the cafeteria are the results of the first extended project by Studio 1 Art students. They were introduced to the medium of conte, - drawing sticks in a variety of browns and earth colors which are firmer than charcoal, and are made with a blend of clay compressed with oxide pigments. They were also introduced to a variety of concepts around creating an effective composition, or page layout.

Students chose various fallen leaves with furled edges, (plenty around this time of year!) made observational drawings (studies) from them, and determined effective ways to lay them out on the page (thumbnails).


Brown drawing paper was then crumpled and then flattened again, and conte was rubbed over the top, thus creating an active ground, or foundational layer that has a variety of marks and textures. Over this ground, using a grid system, they tried to duplicate their studies and compositional layout choices, and produce a drawing that incorporated some of the ideas they had worked out in their studies and thumbnails.


This was a challenging project—these are drawings that incorporated very steep learning curves , and the Studio 1 students absolutely rose to the challenge.

Best of all, they created an environment which, as a whole, “fits the earth like a leather glove.”