For Art’s Sake

For Art’s Sake

On Thursday, May 11, more than 50 people attended an Art Show at Seacoast School of Technology (SST) in Exeter. Organized by seniors Alice “Doc” Rimkunas Nickerson and Kayleigh Lemire, who are in the Digital Media Arts program at SST, the show featured the work of students from all 12 programs offered at the school.

“We wanted to show off the entirety of what SST does,” said Doc, who noted the art gallery was originally just going to feature the creative work of students in the Digital Media Arts program.

“We thought it would benefit us and the school more if we had art from every department,” she added.

As for the kinds of work displayed at the show, Kayleigh said some were photos of people in engaged in their work in their respective programs. She said a student from the Welding Technologies program provided them with a sculpture that was welded together.

According to Doc, the more subtle intent behind broadening the work featured at the show was to put a spotlight on each program, some of whom are lesser known in the school and out in the community.

“There are some incredible programs here—this was a way to get people to learn more about them,” she said. “It also showed that everything could be art.”

In total, 50 individual pieces were displayed at the event at which food and drink were also provided. Kayleigh added that the Art Show also necessitated that they promote it.

“We created press statements and flyers and other things that we sent out,” she said. “We put it out there to SST and to the schools that send students here.”

Seacoast School of Technology serves high school students from Epping High School, Exeter High School, Newmarket High School, Raymond High School, Sanborn Regional High School, and Winnacunnet High School.

Noting they coordinated and planned the entire event as well, Doc said they successfully executed it due to dividing up the tasks between them. She said the event was not without its challenges, however.

“Some departments had less participation—it was a harder sell for them to send us pieces,” she said. “I’m happy that we were able to get every department to at least provide one piece.”

During the process of planning the event, Kayleigh created a documentary.

“I documented the whole thing—getting all the art pieces, organizing everything and showing the before and after at the show,” she said. “I also captured the gallery itself and the art.”

Noting she will attend Emerson College in the fall to study Film Production, Kayleigh summed up her experience at SST by expressing appreciation for what she learned there.

“Before I came here, I had no idea what I was going to do [for a career],” she said. “After taking these classes, I figured out that film-making is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

For Doc, who will attend the NH Institute of Art in the fall to study comic books, her experience at SST has provided tangible benefits that will pay immediate benefits.

“I know how to make things digitally on the computer and I have marketable skills,” she said. “I have certifications and the knowledge to get a job before I break into my career.”

As for what she would advise any student considering SST or any other Career and Technical Center in the state, Doc said it was the best decision she has made while in school.

“You learn so much practical knowledge,” she said. “You learn so much and have a good time doing it. You can go right into a job, too, and earn money while in school—it makes so much sense.”

Students go “Wild” for Hair at CRTC

Students go “Wild” for Hair at CRTC

On Friday, May 5, the Concord Regional Technical Center (CRTC) held its 6th Annual Hair Fashion Show & Competition at Concord High School. In total, 37 students competed with representation from Concord Regional Technical Center, Cheshire Career Center, Sugar River Valley Regional Tech and Nashua North.

The theme for this year’s event was A Day at the Zoo. “Students designed a hairstyle that depicted the animal of their choice,” said Kimberly Hannon, Cosmetology Instructor at Concord Regional Technical Center. “It was a great opportunity for students to push themselves out of their comfort zone and get creative.”

As for their animals of choice, she said students picked everything from a ram to a flamingo, tiger, and an elephant. Winners at this year’s competition were: Alyssa Fulton, Hope Hibbard, and Brittney Stevens (1st place) from Sugar River Valley Regional Tech; Olivia Goulet and Cleo Lee (2nd Place) from Nashua North: and Lily Laura from CRTC (3rd place).

“All the students were very creative,” she added. “We had some very talented kids. They were very attentive this year.”

In addition to students, there were several dozen people in attendance. She cited involvement from industry partners and sponsors as critical to the event’s continued success.

“The judges were from industry and the sponsors were great,” she said. “Paul Mitchel of Northern New England donated a lot this year, too.”

Noting she was pleased with the competition and show, she noted the day’s festivities underscore the strength of the cosmetology industry as a whole.

“Our industry never dies—it is always booming and always growing,” she said. “There is always something trendy happening. You have to stay in the now.”

For students who complete the Cosmetology Program at CRTC, Hannon said they have a leg up on peers who enter post-secondary schools without any prior experience.

“They will be familiar with the tools and terminology and more confident when they go,” she said.

Hannon said program graduates will also be further along on their career pathway, as they can earn more than 300 hours out of the 1,500 that is required in the licensure process.

“Our students have a higher success rate in completing post-secondary school, too,” she added. “They have the technical skills already. The terms may be different, but they understand the technical side already.”

In summing up the industry as a whole, she said many people on the outside continue to have misconceptions regarding it.

“Many people think that you can’t make a lot of money in this industry, which is not true,” she said. “There is plenty to be made in this industry unless you don’t work hard at what you do.”

She said another misconception is that people in the industry are not as smart as those in other industries.

“That’s not true,” she said. “You need a lot of people skills to succeed—they are essential. Some of the smartest, most talented and hardest working people I know are hairdressers and barbers…The industry demands a lot of people, but it gives back, too.”

“Growing” STEM in Milford

“Growing” STEM in Milford

Recently, Milford High School & Applied Technology Center held its fifth STEM event for 4th and 5th grade students and parents, but the real story is what has taken place behind the scenes in recent years. According to Frank Xydias, high school engineering teacher at Milford High School, the concept of these “STEM Nights” all started in the fall of 2014.

“The idea was suggested at the engineering advisory board meeting as a way to keep non-traditional enrollment up,” he noted. “It was suggested by Kathy Carson, a parent of one of my female students. At the time, we had consecutive years of 40% non-traditional enrollment and the numbers were decreasing.”

Kathy, whose daughter Jen (now a high school senior) coordinated activities for the first few events, said the initial emphasis was on attracting girls.

“It was important to have a girls only event once the kids reached middle school, as that is the age where the girls start to step back and let the boys take over in STEM related tasks,” she said. “We wanted to make sure the girls had a chance to put their hands on things and do the experiments themselves versus watching the boys doing everything.”

Kathy said she in fact wished she had had more guidance growing up herself.

“When I was growing up, there was far less guidance in choosing a path for college, especially for girls,” she said. “I was over 40 before I really understood what an Engineer did. Looking back, if I had known such a career path was an option for me in High School, I may have pursued Engineering instead of Accounting.

Noting she has been in the engineering program since her freshman year, Jen said she knew from her first course that she wanted to go into an engineering field. Acknowledging that she is also aware of the gender gap with enrollment, she said she wanted to help work on STEM Nights because she herself “knew next to nothing about engineering going into high school.”

“If one of my friends hadn’t convinced me to take the intro class my freshman year, I would most likely be going down a completely different career path,” she said. “The events were extremely fun to both plan and run. I am a huge fan of working with kids, so I loved running the stations and getting to work with them one-on-one.”

With college just around the corner, Jen said she plans to attend the University of Rochester and major in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Materials Sciences. After college, she said she would like to enter the sports engineering field to design and analyze equipment.

“The STEM classes at MHS have fostered my interest and showed me that engineering is more than just boys working with machinery,” she said.

The results
According to Xydias, their efforts—as well as that of others—to attract more girls to STEM have led to tangible results.

“In the summer, I teach a series of summer camps at Manchester Community College—and in the summer of 2014, we had to cancel the Girls Camp due to low enrollment,” he said. “In the summer of 2015, we were at capacity for the Girls Camp and 50-80% female enrollment for the other co-ed camps. About 25% of the participants in each camp came from the Girls in STEM night held in the fall or spring.”

Echoing sentiments expressed by Xydias, Don Jalbert, director of technical studies at Milford High School, cited strong community support in making STEM Nights successful. He credited the efforts of
members of their various Program Advisory Committees in particular.

“These partners set-up ‘booths’ similar to what you would see at a trade show,” he said. “They bring demonstrations as well as swag to share with the participants. Parents that choose to remain in the school during the event also have an opportunity to meet these business and industry partners. Representatives from various campuses of CCSNH have also participated as vendors.’”

Also crediting the support of Milford School District Superintendent Bob Marquis as instrumental, Jalbert said he believes they are building some momentum.

“We are very hopeful that what we are building will eventually turn into a K-12 effort that will highlight STEM as an integral part of everyday life in school and beyond,” he said.