Posted by Paul Baker on May 26, 2016
Students at the John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School who completed the eighth grade this week celebrated that milestone in a ceremony Tuesday night in Aurora University’s Perry Theatre.
AU President Rebecca Sherrick presented the 31 young scholars their much-anticipated certificates of completion as well as $1,000 scholarships to be used should they return to attend the university.
The event featured comments from faculty and students, and the eighth-grade choir, accompanied by a ukulele ensemble, performed a rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine.” The song underscored one of the event’s underlying themes.
In her welcoming comments, Arin Carter, director of the STEM partnership school, encouraged the eighth-graders to imagine a successful future for themselves as they matriculate to high school and college and later pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics or wherever life takes them.
“Don’t stop, don’t color within the lines, don’t stay in the box,” she told the students. “Keep going with what you have learned here.”
In her talk on “The Essence of STEM,” eighth-grader Celine Azem summed up the year, recalling some of the projects in which she and her peers participated: inserting jellyfish genes into the DNA of bacteria, studying the importance of diversity in ecosystems, programming robots and pondering the philosophical implications of extraterrestrial life.
“Not too shabby for a class of eighth-graders to accomplish in just under 200 days, eh?” she asked.
In her concluding remarks, classmate Ruju Talati probably spoke for many of her peers when she said, “I used to think that going to high school would be a scary and nerve-wracking experience, but with the guidance, support and leadership of our teachers here, all I am waiting for is excitement!”
The John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School at Aurora University serves students in third through eighth grades from the Batavia, East Aurora, West Aurora and Indian Prairie school districts. It is staffed through a unique professional development strategy that engages teachers from the partner districts as faculty while they complete AU graduate coursework and become leaders in mathematics and science education.