Saturday, April 12, 2008


It's spring and that means the school year is shifting. Accepted student days. End of projects. Finals. Awards events. Soon graduation. Much of this season is about illuminating the talent of the students and what they have achieved. They continue to amaze me.

Last night, the "IBM" student team and EMC staff traveled to Underhill, for a final post-mortem on the IBM project (see project below in the link on the right) and a Vermont styled evening. John Cohn and his generous wife Diane welcomed us into their refurbished one-room schoolhouse home. We discussed what went right, what went wrong and what we wished we could do with the project. Apparent was that we each grew through the experience. In turn that learning is influencing our upcoming projects. However and more importantly a web of community grew beyond the campus causing strong relationships and respect. John impacted our lives and the students equally impacted his.

After deconstructing the project, the students got a tour that included the old bell tower looking out over the hilly countryside. John rang the bell and one could imagine the generations of students called to class in that building. Diane cooked a delicious dinner to feed our troops—home cooking being a luxury to college students. It felt as if our Champlain students were getting a real down to earth Vermont "thank you".  John even gave us a home-brewed physics/chemistry lesson lighting up the yard of that old schoolhouse with
some of his mad scientist chemistry magic. Resembling Thor the god of thunder & lightening, he concocted plasma gas in the microwave, created gigantic sparklers, and became a fire-breathing engineer. Mike Fowler remarked that he wished his high school science teachers had been so dynamic. Then in a magnificent finale worthy of the Fourth of July, John created a huge heart stopping BLAST!!!! To get a sense of the evening and the consequences, please read John's April 11th & 12th blogs

Tonight was a quieter, though no less impactful student-focused celebration. It was the Communication & Creative Media Division Awards Night. The first students up to the podium were Wes Knee, Emily Benton, Ben LaPointe and Lauren Nishikawa receiving the Team Excellence Award from Prof. Eric Ronis. Nominated for their work at Elliott Masie's Learning 2007, the students had to go yet another step and create solutions for the Student Government Association. What I've observed is that this group is actively spreading what they've mastered —the value of and successful skills needed for teamwork—to other students.

For the last award of the evening, the Emergent Media Center presented its first award; the EMC Interstellar Award to Lauren. What she has given the EMC is quite a gift. She has set the bar for what it means to work with the EMC. Lauren is a student who is equally talented as a game designer, Flash scriptor and an artist. She brings creativity, professionalism and level-headedness to everything she does. Appropriately the plaque we gave her was created in equal parts by ourselves, Wes, John Cohn and even Paul Ledak. Paul is IBM's VP of Emerging Business Opportunity in Digital Convergence. Here's an interesting interview with Paul on 3D internet and digital convergence. Paul cut the design in wood for Lauren's plaque using a laser cutter—a VP of Digital Convergence crafting the first Emergent Media Center award for Lauren. It's rather like passing the torch of the future. Now how cool is that?

Lastly I want to share a story about the Outstanding Artist Award given by Prof. Geebo Church. Geebo is a man I deeply admire. He is an artist in the pure sense. Geebo tonight talked about the role of the artist. To be an artist inspires one's whole existence—it is indeed a calling. Simply stated, the artist's role is to illuminate what others may or may not see. They shine a light and provide questions and context. When I look at my life and why I love my work, it is because our students are both the candle and its flame. A teacher's job is to provide the fuel, the students' is to illuminate the future. The student artist who received the award is Game Art & Animation senior Nick Malutama. Nick is originally from Africa. When you view his piece; first created for a history class, now with almost 42,000 hits on Youtube, I believe you will understand why I advocate so strongly for our students' voices.

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