Maywood Middle School Spotlights Students’ Artistic, Technical Talents

Thursday, May 24, 2018 || By Shanel Romain || @maywoodnews 

Featured image: Darrell Edwards shows off the inner workings of a battery–powered car he made during Irving Middle School’s ENCORE Spotlight Showcase on May 23. | Shanel Romain 

Students at Irving Middle School, 805 S. 17th Ave. in Maywood, showed off their many talents during an ENCORE Spotlight Showcase on May 23.

The school’s ENCORE classes are elective courses designed to “foster students’ emotional awareness, self-expression, critical thinking, visual and media literacy, and civil responsibility,” according to the program’s web page.

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James Harmon, Darrell Edwards and Leodan Venegas tend to their car on May 23. | Shanel Romain 

Susan Abraham-Henderson, a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) teacher at Irving said that she trained for two weeks in Project Lead the Way, a nationally recognized STEM curriculum, in order to facilitate the ENCORE program.

On Wednesday, ENCORE students displayed some of the projects they pulled off with the skills they developed in the classes.

The projects included 360-degree rotating catapults, custom-made locker room organizers, miniature battery-powered cars, landscape paintings, pastel drawings inspired by famous street artist Keith Haring and original music compositions.

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Oil pastels based on the style of street artist Keith Haring. | Shanel Romain 

One class of students was required to bring a bunch of items to school that they put in a pile. They then were told to roll a dice to ensure their selections were random, pick items randomly out of the pile and build a model with whatever items they were fated to work with.

The result? Some dolls with blue hair and glass legs.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the majority,” Irving student Jaylen Jackson said, recounting one of the lessons he got out of the demonstration. “This could be the new normal in the future.”

Irving Principal Michelle Hassan said that this was the first year of the ENCORE Spotlight Showcase. The unique instruction has the potential to change students’ lives, she said.

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Original musical compositions by Irving Middle School students. | Shanel Romain 

And the data is compelling.

According to U.S. Department of Commerce data, people who work in STEM careers earn roughly 26 percent more than non-STEM workers and those who have degrees in STEM, whether they work in a STEM field or not, typically earn more than people with non-STEM degrees.

In addition, “Employment in STEM occupations grew by 10.5 percent, or 817,260 jobs, between May 2009 and May 2015, compared with 5.2 percent net growth in non-STEM occupations,” according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

STEM instruction also encourages students to think creatively and holistically, school officials said. Perhaps a case in point?

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Jainna Eckles stands near her presentation on leopards during Irving’s ENCORE Spotlight Showcase on May 23. | Shanel Romain 

Irving student Jainna Eckles’ Showcase presentation was all about the science of how leopards move their legs. But could the leopard that Eckles illustrated on her presentation board have been inspired by Keith Haring? VFP

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