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Students to Present Passion Projects This Week

Level 5 Spanish students preparing for their Passion Project presentations.This week, visit the Cochran Gym on Thursday evening and you’ll get to sample some homemade chocolate, listen to a little music from Colombia, learn to make paper from old sheets, and get a grasp of the renewable energies of Costa Rica. And much, much more.

This is the high school Passion Project fair where students in Level 5 Spanish and French present their work, the result of weekslong research into whatever topic they are passionate about.

Oh, and they’ll be making those presentations in their language of study. (Don’t worry, Level 4 students will be on hand to translate back into English.)

Spanish teacher Steven Lopez came up with the idea of the Passion Project when looking for ways to truly engage students while preparing them for the world. The only caveats being that they must learn something new and come up with something tangible to teach their topic.

In all, about 50 students will present their projects on Thursday evening. Tyler Mielke will showcase fog nets used to collect water in the Atacama Desert, Owen Taylor will teach teenagers how to become experts in budget travel, and Ollie Fuchs will show a movie he made about the cinematography style of director Alfonso Cuaron.

“The projects run the gamut,” said Lopez.

This will be the third year for the Passion Project, which endured through COVID precisely because the students were so passionate about their work. “They really get into it,” Lopez said, “and that is the point. They have to choose something that they’d like to know more about, something they are very curious about, and something that takes them beyond research on a computer. And then they have to present it in their world language.”

Gus Renzin’s project takes the Passion Project to a whole new level. He is designing a financial literacy charity and bank for the houseless in Latin America. “This kind of passion is exactly what I wanted to emerge,” said Lopez.

The students universally agree that the Passion Project is meeting its objective. “I think it’s a really good idea and a different way to learn. It’s been a way for me to take my love for language to a new level,” said Lily Safire, who is researching the history of chocolate production and its use today and will present in both French and Spanish.

“It’s so much better than sitting down and taking a test,” said Simon Levine, who is exploring Arab influence on Spanish culture. “It’s super engaging and nice to have that kind of freedom.”

Stella Stephens and Carina Eisenberg are working together to share “Everything you need to know about Venezuelan arepas.” “I’m excited to do this because you have a lot of freedom and we can be as creative as we like,” said Stephens.

As if reading their Spanish teacher’s mind, Eisenberg added, “And it’s helping us to be independent.”

The Passion Project fair is Thursday, April 28 from 6 – 7:30 p.m.

April 24, 2022