Miraya’s Experience with the Restorative Center

Back in June, I helped set up and run the Restorative Center’s annual fundraiser.

The Restorative Center is a non-profit that works to enhance restorative justice by training teens, attorneys and other volunteers. Most of their work involves “circles” in which groups meet in a circle formation and discuss their experiences openly.

The fundraiser was held at Joe’s pub, with a performance by Stephanie McKay. I helped by setting up the venue before it started, and by assisting with an activity for the attendees. The activity was to write what justice meant to each of the attendees on separate pieces of wood, so by the end of the night there was a pretty visual of what justice means.

It was a very fun and informative night, and I’m so glad I got to attend!

Alex’s Summer Service with SPNA

This summer I volunteered with the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association (SPNA). I helped out at Stuyvesant park near school with gardening tasks that are important to maintaining the park, such as pulling weeds and raking leaves. I have been volunteering there for the past few years, and it is wonderful to be able to see the direct results of my work. For example, I can plant flowers in the fall and see them bloom in the spring, or spread mulch over an area without grass and come back a month later to see a grassy field. This is really a volunteer opportunity where you can see the results of your work and how you have helped improve the park for everyone.

Since I live nearby, I have gone to Stuyvesant park throughout my entire life. I used to go there to play with my brother, and I often walk my dog through the park. Now that I go to Friends, this park is also a part of my school community. For me, volunteering with SPNA has been a great way to give back to my community in a way that improves the experience of me and everyone else who uses the park.

Alex’s Schedule Generator Update

Last year, I figured out how to add my eight day schedule to Google Calendar by creating the events as a spreadsheet and then importing them. In the process, I realized that I could write a program that others in the community could use to generate spreadsheets and import their own schedules into Google Calendar. Using my basic knowledge of HTML, CSS, and Javascript, I created a simple website that allowed users to input their schedules and download a generated spreadsheet. I eventually presented my generator so that others could use it. It felt great to know that my work was helping others keep organized and adjust to the new schedule. (For more information, see my relfection from last year.)

This year, I updated the dates of classes in the generator for the new school year. I also made the repeat function easier to use and added an option to repeat class twice per cycle. Additionally, I redesigned the website and added clearer instructions on how to use it. I also moved the website from Google Drive to Github in order to have a more reliable website and a simpler, more memorable url. The new link is https://schedule-gen.github.io/. I hope these updates will make the generator easier for people to use and that it will continue to contribute to the community in the future.

William Cohen’s Flint Water Project

Last week I completed my final chemistry project.  This year all of the final chemistry projects were focused on a particular aspect of the Flint Water Crisis.  I learned so much from doing this project about both chemistry and the dangers of lead.  This project was comprised of several assignments that were either research or lab based, and it culminated in a final project about an assigned topic.  These presentations were open to parents, teachers, and other school faculty.

My assigned topic was the health effects of lead.  Throughout the research process, I found myself feeling incredibly thankful that my tap water is perfectly safe to drink.  I thought that I could have easily been impacted by this crisis if I had lived in Flint.  The thing that struck me most about learning about the health impacts is that they were irreversible.  The thing that makes me sympathize the most with the victims of lead poisoning is that they did nothing wrong.  Many of the victims had no knowledge that the water in their faucets was dangerous.  Unlike smokers, who know that smoking causes many deadly diseases, there was no warning that the water might be dangerous until the damage had already been done.

This project has taught me to be aware of things going on around the country even if they don’t have a direct impact on my life.  I will continue to be informed about this issue and pay attention to its progression over the summer.

 

Miraya’s Flint Project Reflection

This year, my chemistry class had the opportunity to do a semester long project on the water crisis in Flint, MI. We had an assignment every month and each varied. All of the assignments showed us how important it is to have addressed the problems in Flint and they all made us think about how we can prevent situations like this from happening.

For me personally, I was not aware of what was going on in Flint prior to our first assignment. I’m sure I would have learned about it regardless, but I am not sure that I would have actually cared about it as much as I do now. This project made me really interested in Flint. Because we covered a wide array of topics relating to lead contamination, I understand what is happening in Flint in a way I would not have had we not done the project. I would not have taken part in class discussions and hands-on learning experiences all about Flint. The project was extremely beneficial, and I am glad to have done it.

For my final Flint assignment, I chose to do a lab where I had to purify really dirty water. It turned out to be super cool and fun to do and it was a really nice way to end my year in chemistry. I was given water with garden soil, vegetable oil and some unknown chemical and from there I needed to make it as clean as possible. I was so intimidated by it but it ended up perfectly clear!

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The water I purified before (right beaker) and after (left beaker).

Finally, we ended our project with a presentation to a fifth grade class. I was assigned to research the health effects of lead. It was really rewarding to be able to share my knowledge on Flint with kids who seemed genuinely interested. They asked so many questions and I think they got a lot out of their visit.

Moving forward, I will continue to learn about what’s going on in Flint, and I hope by sharing what I learned throughout this project I can maybe help make progress when it comes to situations like the one in Flint.

Alex’s Schedule Generator Experience

Last year, one method I used to keep track of my classes was to add them as repeating events to the Calendar app on my iPad. Instead of having to perfectly memorize my schedule, I could, at any time throughout the day, simply swipe down Notification Center and see when my classes were. Notification Center also tells you helpful information, such as how many minutes you have until your next class.

It is a challenge for everyone this year to adjust to the new eight day schedule, and it is even more difficult to keep track of when your classes are than last year. Instead of having to memorize five school days worth of classes, you have to memorize eight, and in addition know what number each school day is. This gets even more challenging when you to take into account the holidays on which we do not have school, and how they shift the entire schedule a day later.

As soon as I learned about the new schedule, I tried to put it into my Calendar app like I did last year. I quickly ran into some problems. Unlike last year, you cannot simply create calendar events that repeat weekly. Making events that repeat every eight days does not work either because it does not take weekends into account. Even if you could make events that repeat every eight weekdays, holidays would still be a problem.

The solution I finally came up with takes advantage of Google Calendar’s “Import Calendar” feature. I figured out a way to create a spreadsheet in Excel that can be imported as a calendar. Earlier in the summer, I had begun to learn some basic HTML, CSS, and Javascript. I realized that I could use these coding languages to create an online schedule generator that others could use to easily generate their own spreadsheets that could be imported into Google Calendar.

After a lot of research, programming, and refinement, I was finally able to create a working version of the schedule generator. From there, I added some additional features, such as the ability to add locations, add free periods, have a separate schedule for Semester 2, and even automatically fill in all classes of a certain block letter.

Here is the link to the current (not yet finished) schedule generator, hosted on Google Drive: https://www.googledrive.com/host/0B2EJ3y8e4rmfdU83dHYyMkhWNmM/. My schedule generator will hopefully be available as a finished product by Semester 2 or by next year.

“We are in community each time we find a place where we belong and find we are needed.”

–Peter F. Block

By being able to create and share my schedule generator, I feel connected with the meaning of this quote. It is a wonderful and unique service experience to be able to share a solution that I found with the entire Friends community, and I hope it will help everyone manage the new eight day schedule.

Sam Jacovitz Out of School Service Reflection

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Over the duration of the summer I was a CIT at a Mass Audubon camp in Massachusetts.  I worked with kids

from ages 6- 12.  I was a camper at the same camp since I was seven years old so it was interesting having to

change roles this year but I enjoyed it very much.  As a my main job was just helping and supporting the

counselors in any way possible from leading a game for the kids or getting equipment for the next activity.  It was

great to finally give off the knowledge that I learned when I was a camper to the current camper now.  After this

experience as a counselor in training I would definitely look into being a counselor either at the same camp in a

few years from now or a different camp some time sooner. I believe that the most important thing that I learned this

summer as a CIT had to be that kids at that age have to go to the bathroom every five minutes!  I hope next year I will

be able to be a counselor in training at the same camp again.  campers-tidepooling